Archive for Book Campaigning
We authors understand the importance of Being Earnest(LY REVIEWED). Please forgive the literary pun, I couldn’t resist. My bad.
We also know the hardships of getting books reviewed. We’ve watched those old standard venues shrink to nearly non-existent, and they usually cover only huge names anyway. Even when someone finally agrees to review our book we may be 6 months down their waiting list. And often, by then they forget and might slightly resent a reminder letter, shunting us further down the list.
But there is hope. These success stories and tips can make a huge difference for your book campaign.
Success Story 1: Get Reviewed by “Amateurs”
Keith Donohue’s story about his novel The Stolen Child, rising to the New York Times extended bestseller list, illustrates the significance of gaining reviews on Amazon.com, whose reviews are solely responsible for his success. At release Keith’s novel was shunned by all the big time reviewers and critics. An Amazon article relates:
“A review copy ended up in the hands of Linda Porco, Amazon.com’s merchandising director. She passed it around in the office and everyone loved it. So Porco tried something new.”
She sent it to Amazon’s most active amateur hobby reviewers who review books and products for free. Rave reviews soon covered the author’s Amazon sales page. Read the full story. The article continues,
“Critics argue that amateurs’ reviews are meaningless, that they don’t apply the professional critics’ intellectual rigor. But whatever the amateur reviewers do or don’t lack in highbrow sensibilities, they make up for in credibility and relevancy. “
I also wrote about how, until recently, only authors and readers seem to give allegiance to not only Amazon reviews, but the thousands of internet book bloggers. See “Publishers Finally Listening to Book Bloggers’ Reviews.”
“Amateur” Reviews Can Create a Bestseller, or at Least a Hefty Income
We no longer must be reviewed in huge metropolitan newspapers and slick magazines by nationally acclaimed reviewers to end up with a bestseller. Even publishers are taking notice of what book bloggers and Amazon reviewers have to say.
Many authors already know that Amazon reviews and those appearing on book blogs are the meat and potatoes of the reviewing arena. But it’s the readers who’ve alerted everyone to their importance. They devour these “amateur” reviews to discover new reading delights. And they buy the recommended books.
Reviews are your path to a bestseller, or at least a hefty income. Don’t ignore their powerful persuasion. Spend as much time as necessary seeking them out, and not just when you launch your book.
Getting Amazon “Amateur” Reviewers for Your Book
Don’t skip this step. eMail these top “amateur” reviewers with your request. The Amazon article quoted above includes detailed instructions to get the attention of Amazon’s top hobby reviewers in “So you’d like to… Get your book reviewed on Amazon and boost your sales.”
Probably because my books target such a tight niche I’ve never had a top Amazon reviewer accept, but maybe this book will be my first. And maybe your book will snag their attention. We should never stop trying.
One of my many favorite book marketing experts, Dana Lynn Smith, wrote a comprehensive guide to gaining reviews in How to Get Your Book Reviewed. As a matter of fact, I reviewed her book and recommend you get it. (I endorse her work so highly I’ve become an affiliate.)
Success Story 2: Ask a “Name” in the Industry
My story also illustrates the importance of being earnest(LY REVIEWED) using a different route. And this is the result.
This April (2012) on the 4th day after my book, Amazon Categories Create Bestsellers, went live on Kindle, it hit bestseller in two categories. The book held both categories steady until the ninth day after publication, adding a third bestselling category and rising to #12 and #20 in two of them. See Figure 1.
Figure1: day 5 rises to 3 category bestsellers:
It’s important to Note I had not even started book publicity. Because the print version was not yet live on Amazon (and my mother was here visiting), I hadn’t announced its release to my social media following or initiated any of my other campaign plans.
A Huge But
But, and this is a huge “but,” I had sent a prepub copy to the CEO of BookBuzzr.com, Vikram Narayan requesting a review or a few comments of endorsement. He posted his review on their blog just two days before my book made multiple category bestsellers lists and started its climb. Coincidence?
I’m convinced the sales came from this one review.
Though all reviews are of great help, those from prestigious leaders in your field can catapult sales too. It takes guts to approach the leaders in your industry, but if they happen to like your book the payoff is huge.
Reviews from influential names are always a long shot, but if you don’t ask you certainly can’t get one. If I hadn’t sent my eBook to BookBuzzr’s CEO I wouldn’t have his wonderful review, and most likely wouldn’t have hit bestsellers three categories in five days after publication.
Success Story 3: Another Step to Influential Reviews
When my print version goes live at Amazon my next step is to mail it to their staff editors, requesting a review. If they like a book they have been known to create feature presentations along with reviews. There is also a coveted editor’s pick list called Best Books of the Month you just may get chosen for.
Mail Your Book to Amazon Editors:
333 Boren Ave North
Seattle WA, 98109
Be sure to indicate your book’s categories and its Amazon sales link along with your own contact information in your mailer, though you most likely will not receive a response unless they decide to feature or review your book. Like most reviewers you won’t get your book returned either.
Author’s Also Need to Review Books
We rely almost completely on reviews to gain readers, especially with the high cost of advertising. Conversely we should review every book we ourselves read. It only takes a few minutes and, as writers we know it means the world to authors.
So, in the spirit of this post, to those of you who read my book(s) I request you post a few sentences about it on my Amazon sales pages when you get a spare minute. You can find links to all my books through my Author Central profile.
So what the big deal? Stylus pad electronic autographing has been around for years. There are also over 240 free paint apps for the iPad. My grandkids have drawn and written numerous artworks for me with some of them. Many of these programs could serve as autograph apps, just not very well.
The big deal is that those platforms lack the ability to actually insert your autograph into an eBook or add it to a mobile device/e-reader, such as the Kindle or smart phone. But developers are announcing attempts at exactly this and much more. The race is on between developers and also between e-readers themselve to get the easiest, slickest and most attractive signing experience available to lure readers and authors alike.
Thought-provoking new developments for sure. But some still wonder if anyone would really want an autographed eBook since they can’t be displayed as a collectable. Judging from the internet buzz the answer is a resounding YES.
The L.A. Times Blog reports, “On May 2, children’s author Sandra Boynton signed copies of her eBook “The Going to Bed Book” at a Barnes & Noble location in New York, using a stylus and special copies of the book offered for the Nook Color e-reader,” according to CNet.
CNet continues, “Other e-readers, such as the Sony Reader, already make it possible to write on pages. There is also a company named Autography that carries a patent for “inserting an autograph or other salutation into an e-book.” (More on Autography later in this series)
And last May Rich Dad’s Robert Kiyosaki offered the first ever live Kindle eBook signing of Unfair Advantage on Facebook with a groundbreaking application of this popular new technology.
There are many questions and many high tech attempts at answering them. This series of posts covers the newest advancements, inviting you to add your own questions and thoughts. Today’s post concentrates on the only free eBook autographing service I’ve found, Kindlegraph.
FREE KINDLEGRAPH SERVICE
There’s a handful of exciting betas out there that run the gamut from sending a free personalized autographed document to mobile devices, to expensive high-tech, equipment-heavy programs that create a live virtual book signing experience. The free Kindlgraph online application starts at the beginning, the lower end of this new technology. But sometimes less is more.
KindleGraph is the work of developer Evan Jacobs, a former Amazon programmer. He created the service as part of the DocuSign hackathon. Check out Evan’s media page for more information.
Evan gives some enticing promises. “Kindlegraph is still a very new project and I’ve been happy with the response that it has had from authors and readers. As you might imagine, I will be bringing the service to all e-readers (not just the Kindle) as well as enabling other features which will help connect authors and readers even more closely. Stay tuned!”
And at The Book Pushers he revealed even more, “The next exciting feature will be the ability for authors to deliver sample chapters of upcoming works directly to the reading devices of their fans. Along with that, readers will be able to “subscribe” to their favorite genres and receive a regular digest including samples of new titles in that genre.”
Evan’s Book Pushers interview answered another of my burning questions: are you working on a function where the signature can be placed into the actual eBook? “Yes, although this will likely vary from platform to platform as some e-readers allow better access to the material on the device than others.”
SIMPLE TO USE
Author usage is simple even for the technically challenged among us. You must have a twitter account to sign in with, then enter your Kindle eBook’s ASIN (found on your catalog sales page) and follow the few easy instructions. You’ll get a chance to create your signature at this time.
Then you’re all ready to respond when readers request your personalized Kindlegraph. They will receive a one page document sent directly to their Kindle. At this time, the reader is simply collecting author autographs, not the actual eBook with signature. But I prefer the freedom to allow readers to purchase my books from Kindle and then get them autographed later. Books purchased elsewhere aren’t eligible to be tallied for Kindle’s numerous top 100 lists.
I’ve used Kindlegraph, and love it, but still had questions. It seems that each autograph you collect is sent as a separate document. Is there any way to put them all together on your Kindle into an e-autograph album? Can you then organize them into categories such as by genre, musician, artist etc.? Via twitter Evan answered, “Yes, the Kindlegraph is a separate doc but you can create a “Collection” where you can keep them all together.”
Whatever its present limitations you’ll want to keep an eye on this one. Even with only the present functions, this application is fresh and innovative, and thankfully free.
PRESENT KINDLEGRAPH FUNCTIONS
- Receive requests from your readers and send your digital signature directly to their Kindles. You’ll receive an email every day that you have requests waiting.
- Your own author page on Kindlegraph where your fans can go to see a listing of all of your available books so they request your signature on all of them. Kindlgraph links directly to your Kindle sales pages so viewers can purchase them immediately.
- Readers don’t need to own a Kindle (or any e-reader) but can enter a regular email address at the time of their request and they will receive your personalized Kindlegraph in their inbox as a PDF attachment.
- Until Evan adds other mobile device compatibilities, readers using e-readers other than the Kindle, can “sideload” the emailed file onto their pdf-compatible e-readers.
- Many handwriting fonts to choose from for your signature. I found one that really does look a lot like my own handwriting.
- Write your signature yourself. This only looks good if you own a stylus and pad, at least for me. I tried it very unsuccessfully with my mouse. But the stylus pad is worth it. I plan on purchasing one ASAP so I can utilize this function. I know I can use it often for similar online tasks.
- Shows you the twitter name of the autograph requests so you can connect with them. Great way to build a fan base you know already loves your work.
- The next time you are interviewed, either live radio or live in print at a blog etc. post your author page link (my Kindlegraph author page). Then announce repeatedly that all attendees can get your ebook autograph sent directly to their Kindle. Since this is fairly new it’s a rousing draw to increase attendance.
- Host a live Facebook eBook signing. This can be applied to any site(s) such as Goodreads or your own blog.
- Author book chat on Google+‘s free hangout feature. Face to face with you is so much more personal. Comb your hair, start “hanging out” and give instructions how to get your personal digital autograph while getting to know each other. Limitation: allows only 10 at one time. But you can do this often, either scheduled ahead of time, or impromptu open chats when you just have a spare hour. Unfamiliar with Hangout? See Emlyn Chand’s Googl+ informative article with even more usage tips.
- Announce your Kindlegraph author page to your social media followers periodically to set your your eBook apart.
- Create your own critique groups (maybe on Google+) hand chosen from the authors you most respect. And during the sessions get each other’s autographs.
We’d love to hear how YOU use this new technology.
Text of the above webcast: I recently won the 2011 Global eBooks Awards for my non-fiction book, The Rewritten Word: How to Sculpt Literary Art no Matter the Genre, in the category Writing/Publishing. And when my dear friend, Carolyn Howard-Johnson, heard about it (as I shouted it from my Social Media mountaintops) she reminded me about using awards for prolific promotion opportunities. All these great tips and more are found in her 2nd edition book, The Frugal Book Promoter.
I’ve followed every one of her suggestions, except to add my award seal to my checks, so I’m confident I’ll gain every bit of exposure possible from this award. I learned long ago to do exactly as Carolyn says if I want to succeed and do it frugally.
Mentor-to-all Carolyn Howard-Johnson is an instructor for the renowned UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, and author of the multi award-winning series, HowToDoItFrugally. She just released the revised edition of her also multi-award-winning how-to, The Frugal Book Promoter (USA Book News and Irwin award). We’re honored to share with you this excerpt from one of its chapters. Find the revised edition at How to do it Frugally.
Excerpted from The Frugal Book Promoter Revised Edition
Awards Are Free Publicity Gold
by Carolyn Howard-Johnson,
author of the multi award-winning book,
The Frugal Book Promoter
It is award season once again. It’s exciting to see many of my author friends’ books win, place, or show. I hope they remember I told them in my first book in the HowToDoItFrugally series that their book doesn’t have to be a top winner for an award to be newsworthy.
Media editors see awards as anything from a sure-fire feature story to a filler. But I fear that many still don’t utilize their awards to their fullest potential. A list of things authors should do with their awards appeared in the first edition of The Frugal Book Promoter and, because it’s so important, will appear in the second edition to be released September 1.
Because Aggie Villaneuva’s new book just won an award, it seems a time to celebrate so here is the list:
- Add this honor to the Awards page of your media kit. If it’s your first award, center it on a page of its own. Oh! And celebrate!
- Write your media release announcing this coup. (See Chapter Eleven of the second edition of The Frugal Book Promoter to learn to build a targeted media list and Chapter Twelve to learn to write a professional media release.)
- Post your news on media release distribution sites. Find a list of these sites here.
- Notify your professional organizations.
- Notify bookstores where you hope to have a signing and those where you have had a signing.
- Notify your college and high school. Some have press offices. Most publish magazines for alumni and their current students.
- Add this information to the signature feature (see Chapter Twenty) of your e-mail program.
- Add this honor to the biography template you use in future media releases—the part that gives an editor background information on you.
- Use this information when you pitch TV or radio producers, editors of newsletters and newspapers. and bloggers. It sets you apart from others and defines you as an expert.
- If your book wins an award, order embossed gold labels from a company like http://labels-usa.com/embossed-labels.htm
- You or your distributor can apply them to your books’ covers. If you win an important award, ask your publisher to redesign your bookcover or dustcover to feature it a la the Caldecott medal given for beautifully illustrated children’s books. If you don’t know this medal, visit your local bookstore and ask to see books given this award. It’s one of the most famous and most beautifully designed.
- If your book is published as an e-book only, ask for the contest’s official badge or banner to use. If they don’t have one, make one of your own using http://bannerfans.com/banner_maker.php.
- Be sure your award is front and center on your blog, your Web site, your Twitter wallpaper, and your social network pages.
- Your award should be evident on everything from your business card to your checks and invoices. I use the footer of my stationery to tout my major awards.
- Don’t forget to put your award in your e-mail signature.
- Frame your award certificate and hang it in your office to impress visitors and to inspire yourself to soar even higher!
~This is just a blog-size excerpt from a complete chapter on awards in The Frugal Book Promoter, including information on how to improve your chances of getting one. Carolyn brings her experience as a journalist, publicist, retailer and author of her own books to the how-to books she writes for authors. Aggie and Nanci are helping her celebrate the release of the 2nd edition of this USA Book News and Irwin award-winning book. Learn more about the whole series at www.howtodoitfrugally.com.
More About Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Author of the multi award-winning series of HowToDoItFrugally books:
The Frugal Book Promoter
The Frugal Editor
The Great First Impression Book Proposal
Great Little Last-Minute Edits
But I wanted to take a moment now to announce that this multi-award-winning author’s new 2nd Edition of The Frugal Book Promoter is now available.
Not only has Howard-Johnson updated this multi-award-winning book, but we are extremely honored that she has listed Promotion a la Carte in her recommended resource list.
Thank you, Carolyn for believing in our author promotional services!
You can purchase the newest book publicity lessons and resources in The Frugal Book Promoter here.
We all need to know how our book sales are doing. There’s not much that tops finding out we’re a bestseller in our category(s), or even better, in the overall Amazon bestseller list.
CHECK YOUR AMAZON PAGE
For those with books listed at Amazon and Kindle you can check right in the book’s sales page. Scroll down to Product Details. (Numbers 1 and 2 in the screenshot.)
- Listed first is your overall status; how your sales rank against every single book sold at Amazon in the Kindle Store and Amazon (print) Store, respectively.
- Following that your Product Details tally your category bestseller status. If you’re not a bestseller in any category this section is absent.
BUT THERE’S MORE
In order to wage wise publicity campaigns there is much more we need to know about our sales, such as patterns. Did your cookbook sales rise at Christmastime? Did your Y/A book sales drop during summer vacation? We need tracking stats, for one thing, to access when and how to invest our publicity dollars.
NovelRank tracks only Amazon books. They track overall print books sales not only at amazon.com, but also .uk, .ca, .fr, .de and amazon.co.jp. This also includes your Kindle book sales.
Among the many functions available at NovelRank:
- Grab the code to display your sales rank widgets
- Study charts for book sales and sales history for the week, month and year
- Compare book stats
- Subscribe to your own RSS feed alerting you every time a book sells or get hourly sales rank
- Amazon review count
- Download stats to spreadsheet
- Search twitter for mentions of your book title
- Search blogs for mentions of your title
One benefit of using TitleZ, in addition to NovelRank, is that it can find books through all publishers, including Amazon. They even listed the books published under my company, Ceilos Rojos Publishing, which publishes only me. If it has an ISBN # you can find it at TitleZ, but there may be no data attached.
Unfortunately, as of September 2009 Amazon stopped providing Kindle sales rank data via the data feed service, so TitleZ can only track your Amazon print books now.
Among the many functions available at TitleZ:
- Instantly retrieve and print historic and current sales rankings from Amazon for 7, 30, 90 days and lifetime averages.
- See how topics or titles perform over time
- Measure the competition
- Understand what’s hot
- Decide the best time of year for a new book release
I really like the research/comparison function at both sites. Enter a keyword (topic) into the search bar and they’ll return a list from Amazon of the current top selling books on your topic.
You can use these searches to mine golden information. For instance, before signing a new book a publisher could use TitleZ to quickly gauge the historical success of similar, competitive books. A travel writer can identify trends in travel book sales,a marketer to determine what time of year might be best for releasing a new book on the topic at hand.
You can while away hours at this, but can’t come away without valuable information about your field. At TitleZ I entered the keyword “authorship” and was delighted when my friend Larry Brooks’, Story Enigineering, came up 13th at the rank of 2,034. And upon entering “how to edit your writing” my friend Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s book, The Frugal Editor, came up #11 and ranked 208,123. Way to go guys.
- Many sites don’t track Barnes & Noble sales as they only update monthly and this provides little benefit.
- I’ve written to ask, but so far none of the sales tracking sites I know of can track your Amazon category sales, but all track your overall sales rank.
- Want to get quick emails listing your rankings? Set it up with Booklert.