Dear Author,

Recently, I read a blog post by an Author who was having a difficult time selling her books. She blamed everything from the glacial pace of book reviewers, suggesting some take books and don’t leave a review at all, to not feeling comfortable “spamming” her family and friends on social media with links to buy to her book.

To say that my eyes glazed over while reading her post is an understatement. And for the record, I haven’t worked with this Author before.

First, I would like to defend book reviewers as a whole. Book bloggers like me are inundated with books EVERY SINGLE DAY. We have MASSIVE to-be-read lists. I am right now at a one year waiting list, (but I do offer an expedited service, where for a fair price, I can offer a review within seven days). We are not taking books and not leaving reviews… that is borderline hysterical! Book blogging isn’t a large scam to receive books and not leave reviews.

 

I’m not sure if this Author is doing anything productive to sell her books, if her only means of doing so is by periodic shout-outs, and waiting for “slow” reviewers. I asked, but didn’t get an answer, “Have you participated in any blog tours? Are you networking with other authors? Have you had any book release parties, on social media or otherwise? Are you alive?”

Ok, so I didn’t ask if she was alive, but it’s clear to me her book sales have flat lined if she is writing a piece that blames everyone but herself. And since I know a couple of things about selling books, here is my encouraging, and supportive letter to Authors, on how to sell books:

Dear Author,

I know you have worked super hard on writing your book. You poured your heart and soul into into, had it revised/edited/formatted, and published. Now you want to sell it, but maybe it isn’t being noticed as you would like it to be.

Word of mouth is your best bet, when selling books.

You need book reviews. Word of mouth is your best bet. Anything from two line praises, to professional reviews will do. You need to spend money to make money. Go with a professional book blog tour company, booked months in advance, to have book reviews/interviews/book release parties scheduled. Email book bloggers and request reviews; even if the reviews come out a year from now, it will keep the word of mouth coming.

What does your Amazon book page look like? Does it feature your reviews? Is your book blurb catchy? Is your book listed under the correct genre(s)? Is your book available as an e-book? Is it priced fairly?

What does your book look like? Does it have a attractive font and cover? I read a M/M romance book for review once that had a male and female couple dancing on the cover… This was a gross misrepresentation of the novel. Does your book cover jibe with the contents of your novel?

Does your book read well? Have you enlisted the help of several beta readers to critique your book honestly? And please, for the love of all that is holy, do not enlist your best friend or Mother for this task. I now offer a professional beta reading service, so if you would like my help, please check out my policy, here.

Does the beginning of your novel have a good hook? A large proportion of readers will abandon a book if they don’t like the first chapter. According to a Goodreads Poll, titled The Psychology of Abandonment, readers will discontinue reading a book for the following reasons:

1.) “I don’t like the main character.” 

2.) “Weak writing.”

3.) “Slow, boring.” –Make sure your book has an interesting opening!

4.) “Ridiculous, or non-existent plot.”

5.) “Bad editing.” –Seriously, hire a professional editor.

6.) “Inappropriate, makes me uncomfortable.”

And finally, in regards to “spamming your family and friends” with buy links, oh pllllease! Unless you are literally saying, “BUY MY BOOK!”, I don’t see how this is spamming. There are many creative ways to market your book on social media. For instance, if you have a Pinterest board related to your novel, consider using images from your board, and a popular quote that will entice readers. Under your quote, sneak in your Amazon buy link, so readers can find this enticing book of yours. Above all, be present on social media. Have a Facebook and Twitter account as an Author. Share and retweet posts from other authors and bloggers and they may return the favor for you!

I hope you found this post encouraging and helpful. Please check out my Requests page if you are interested in utilizing any of the Author services I offer. 🙂 I am happy to assist you in selling your books.

Sincerely,

April Wood, Blogger for A Well Read Woman

awrw

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22 thoughts on “Dear Author,

  1. This is marvelous. Thank you, April! Sometimes I wonder if authors realize that blogs and social media are forever, and that readers are forming an impression of us when we whine in public. Yes, it’s a tough business; yes, it can be frustrating. But we chose it, after all.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Good post, April! While I have taken part in read/review programs, where your book is offered to readers in exchange for a review, and many of those don’t post reviews – them’s the breaks! There are no guarantees a review will come, and if it does, no guarantees it will rave about your book. Totally different than book bloggers who always post a review, but an author who doesn’t realize there is a line up is an author who isn’t paying attention. I love your expedited service btw 🙂
    Julie Frayn
    Author of Mazie Baby

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Julie! I am glad you love my expedited service. 🙂 You know, the more I think about it, I think NetGalley and other read/review programs are so impersonal, that the blogger doesn’t feel the same loyalty to the author, as if the author asked them his or herself. I personally don’t use netgalley, or any other read/review programs. I just open my email, and POOF, a multitude of requests! 🙂

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  3. Hi folks,

    You’ve all made interesting comments. I stumbled upon them while looking for prospective book reviewers who might be interested in considering my debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow.

    I saw a cute cartoon on Facebook the other day. Maybe you’ve seen it: a black ‘n white drawing of a skeleton sitting on a chair in front of a desk — the caption read, “waiting on a book review.” Personally, I would rather wait, or not receive a review, than for a reviewer to rush through Rarity from the Hollow. A rushed review potentially damages the credibility of the reviewer, the reputation of the author, rips off consumers, and is a disservice to literature in general.

    For example, one reviewer of my novel called it a war story and gave it a one star rating. I haven’t the slightest idea why she would have placed my novel in that subgenre. Maybe she was so busy that she got my story mixed up with another novel. Who knows? The only thing gunshot in Rarity from the Hollow was an imitation Barbie doll used for target practice by neighbor boys — a metaphor of the impact of poverty on the self-esteem of children. There was no war referenced in the story, not a killing in a single scene.

    Two weeks after this review was posted, the book reviewer deleted it on Goodreads, but the one star rating still stands and affects the overall rating of the novel, including on Amazon where the text of this very short review can still be found if one looks down the sequence of book reviews.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not upset about this review. I mentioned it because the situation exemplifies the interplay between authors and reviewers in a tough marketplace, and I hope that you think that my comment about it contributes to this discussion. Using this review strictly as an example:

    Reviewer Reputation: If someone reads this particular review and is familiar with Rarity from the Hollow, they would likely never trust this reviewer’s opinion again, about any book.

    Author Standing: Readers not familiar with the novel may decide to pass on a purchase if they also dislike war stories, or because the review lowered the overall rating of the novel, thereby cutting into sales. (Author proceeds from Rarity from the Hollow have been donated to prevent child abuse, which is collateral damage not usually affected by book reviews.)

    Literature: Although one reviewer called it one, I’m not saying that my novel is a masterpiece. That’s for future generations to determine after I’m long gone. However, masterpieces could easily get overlooked, especially if the writing doesn’t fit neatly within a popular subgenre that some reviewers specialize in by their review policies.

    Everybody is so busy — rush, rush, rush…and nobody’s to blame, not really. Well, maybe I could blame those publishers who make six or seven digit salaries for trying to manipulate the reading interests of the public. Maybe I could blame those authors who are convinced that they have written the best thing since sliced bread, and react like children throwing tantrums whenever someone doesn’t agree. I could even blame book promotions companies who try to con aspiring authors into pawning family heirlooms to pay for promotional services. Why even go there?

    I have met a lot of wonderful book reviewers and blog owners in the last four months of self promoting my debut novel. They work very hard and almost none are compensated for their services — they do it for the love of literature in a free world, to contribute. Personally, I feel sooooo appreciative, including for the attention of the reviewer who called Rarity from the Hollow a war story by mistake, the person that I mentioned above. Mistakes happen and there’s no reason to get bent out of shape.

    After self-publishing became commonplace, was no longer considered “vanity” and eBooks were accepted as “real” books, book bloggers appeared to have become overwhelmed with review requests. There’s a lot of good things that one could say about Indie, especially given that the doors to each Big Five Publishing House have been chained shut for decades. Conglomerates are, you know, the guys who have gotten pretty damn effective in telling us all what we are supposed to like to read, and to review. History may very well identify an unknown Indie author as a Shakespeare equivalent of her day. Regardless, self-publishing certainly affected both writing and book reviewing in this world.

    Four months ago, I started out with four pages of prospective book reviewers interested in speculative fiction.With a couple of exceptions, every blogger on that list had closed shop by the time that I was ready to ask for a book review. As frustrating as the situation is for authors, reviewers, and the public which is eager for something new to read, please, nobody give up on writing or on reviewing. It appears that the world has lost a lot of book reviewers and er can’t afford to lose any more. I’m a novice, so I won’t close with presumptuous advice. The main thing that I really wanted to say was:

    THANK YOU BOOK BLOGGERS!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Robert for your comments! 🙂 I know several virtual book blog tour companies that have provided successful book launches for author friends of mine. The most I have ever seen anyone charge was $250, which to me, is more than reasonable considering this company offers hosts numerous book reviews on scheduled dates, “book blasts”, which include cover reveals, etc, author and character interviews, and a FB book launch party, where hundreds of prospective readers are invited. I’m not sure which company you are referring to, but I promise you, they aren’t ALL scam artists who con authors. 🙂 Also, as far as “rushing through a review”, that may or may not be so. Personally, it takes me two days to read a 500 page book, which includes taking copious notes in my book blog journal. Even though it only takes me a couple of days, I am not “rushing”, personally. I can’t say the same for anyone else, because I don’t know what their reviewing habits are. One more thing, you mentioned that reviewers shouldn’t be compensated (or something like that), but I disagree. I offer an expedited book review service, where if you ask me to review your book, for a fair price, I can have your review ready within 7 days, (this also includes an author and character interview if the author wishes). With this, I am being compensated for putting this author’s book ahead of everyone else, so that they only have to wait a week, versus a year (my current wait list). I see no problem in offering this service, and most authors are thrilled when I tell them I can offer them this. Others are happy to wait. Anyways, thank you for your comments. I’m glad you appreciate book bloggers!

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  4. In defense of the unknown author, as someone who has promoted a lot of books I will say that on each book I’ve sent out for review a certain percentage of bloggers have asked for the book and never come through with a review. This happens each time you have a book to promote through blogs and it even happens on paid virtual tours. I’ve never done a virtual blog tour in which all of the bloggers who signed up actually followed through– and I’ve done about six virtual blog tours. There are always one or two who don’t post for one reason or another. “You have to spend money to make money” is good advice for people who have money. It is a problem for writers who don’t. This is a more common situation these days when writers are paying to produce their works instead of being paid by a publisher to write them. As frustrating as it is to have to wait for reviews, writers do or should, realize how overwhelmed reviewers are with titles. The more books you do the more you adjust your expectations. But please don’t take writer’s frustrations as personal criticism. Writing is a very frustrating, and at times soul crushing, business.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Laura Lee, and I’m sorry you have had disappointing experiences with bloggers. Not all bloggers are professional, nor committed for various reasons. And you are right, the more books you write, the more you adjust your expectations! 🙂

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  5. As someone who sits on both sides of this fence, my reviewer-self says–way to go, April. And my author-self agrees. I average six to eight Amazon samples before settling on a book to read and review, and I still pick some duffers. The writing quality is the key, and those six points are spot on and usually show up in the first few pages (or paragraphs).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yay! I so agree. I’m going to print this out to use when I am doing a workshop on book promotion with a writers’s group.

    Another thing I would add to your list of things is engage actively with book bloggers and reviewers. I see authors get a fantastic review but they are nowhere to be seen before or afterwards. I know we can’t be totally engaged with every book review site out there but it annoys me (and I’m not a book reviewer!) when an author receives a review, bobs in (sometimes) with a brief thank you and is never seen again – doesn’t read reviews of other books or comment on them. If they would only realise the benefit of interacting with the book blogger and other people who follow the site and comment. Following a blog doesn’t mean sign up for it and ignore it unless and until your book is being reviewed.

    Can you tell this hit a nerve with me???

    I have had the occasional disappointment when someone has said they will review my book. I;ve sent it off and then see them on Goodreads adding dozens of books to their tbr lists and I think ‘so why did you ask for mine?’ On the whole, though, I’ve been fortunate in my dealings with book reviewers and I do try to show my appreciation by reading the reviews of other books (and have lots of titles to read which I might never have come across – but maybe some authors don’t read other people’s books?) and sharing on social media. It takes a second to hit that Tweet button.

    Something else an author can do – and I tend to forget but will do it here – is sign off on a comment so their name is a link to either their author page or a buy link or to a website or blog.
    Mary Smith

    Mary Smith

    Obviously you wouldn’t put two signatures – just showing them both as an example.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awww, thanks Mary! And excellent points! Even worse, when an Author cannot even be bothered to thank the reviewer for a review. That drives me nuts! I think, why did you want my opinion if you can’t even be bothered to check out my review? Because, if you don’t say “thank you”, how do I know if you have even read it? Or, not bothering to retweet or share a positive review gets me upset too. I just put several hours into your book, poured my heart out into a review, and… *flat line*. You are so very right when you say that it is important to network with bloggers! 🙂 Thank you, Mary. I appreciate your comments!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I loved your article – this is great advice! Yes, Yes, Yes to everything except on the thanking reviewers thing – as an author, I’ve had about 50% of Bloggers I’ve dealt with say they don’t even want the author to read their review/visit their blog (they feel it’s kind of creepy) and certainly don’t want the author to comment on the review. So I’ve made it my policy to not contact bloggers afterwards/comment on reviews and/or comment on blogs unless I specifically know they don’t mind. On this one point, please don’t assume authors are being jerks – there’s a lot of mixed messages in the blogging community on this particular topic and a lot of authors have been told that good etiquette is to not read/comment, etc.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hi Terri, are you serious? Creepy? How very unusual! That is so odd to me that a reviewer wouldn’t want the author to read their review. I mean, why even write it? Do you double check anyways to see if they honored their commitment by writing a book review?
          Thanks, Terri. I am floored by this!

          Like

          • It’s not so strange. My sister, who uses Goodreads personally (she’s not a blogger or anything) once had an author pop up and post a reply to her review on GRs (and it was a negative comment – kind of a “you’re entitled to your opinion but you’re wrong” kind of thing) and it was kind of creepy. It’s like having someone looking over your shoulder, attempting to censure you. I think for some people, knowing the author will read the review, makes them feel like they have to be careful what they say or not be as honest. I never want anyone to feel like I’m looking over their shoulder or that I would make a stink about anything they say (I’m one of what seems like a minority of authors who are okay with negative reviews (as long as they are about the book and not a personal attack) – they lend legitimacy to an author’s rankings. Any book I see that has only five star reviews tells me only the authors friends and families have reviewed it, because no book is universally loved). So no, I generally don’t check back to see if there was a review, unless it was scheduled as part of a blog tour. I understand that many people prefer to not post a review if it was a DNF or they didn’t like the book or that sometimes life gets in the way, etc. So I never want people to feel like I’m pressuring them or checking up on them or whatever.

            I’d love it if bloggers added info. to their review guidelines about how they feel about an author contacting them to follow up on a review, if they mind if the author comments on the review on their website, etc. Fleshing out those details of how much contact they prefer would help authors know on a case by case basis which bloggers want a thank you, which want their review retweeted, which are okay with the author lurking around their blog, etc. so that there are no assumptions on either side. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            • Oh, I agree with you that it isn’t necessary for an Author to comment on an Amazon or Goodreads review. You’re right, that certainly isn’t typical. I meant a blog post, or a FB/Twitter share. –That it would be nice to hear back from the Author with a simple, “Thanks for reading and for the review!” That means the world to me. 🙂 Thank you, Terri! I appreciate your comments and for shedding light on this topic!

              Liked by 1 person

        • I don’t comment on Amazon reviews (for the most part – once or twice to say thank you or ask if they meant to type “abortion”). But I always thank a book blogger for taking the time to do a critical review, especially when I’ve sought that blogger out and requested they do that. I think most of the cautions surrounding authors contacting reviewers are to warn against engaging readers in an argument over their impressions of your books. If they post a negative review, note it and move on. Don’t tell them why you think they are wrong.

          Liked by 1 person

          • YES! That was what Terri Bruce just pointed out too, regarding Amazon reviews. I meant more specifically when an author contacts a blogger for a review, and it is posted on their personal blogger website. I should have been more clear on that point. 🙂 I don’t think I have ever had an author comment on an amazon review…

            Liked by 1 person

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