[THOUGH THIS BLOG WAS PUBLISHED A YEAR AGO, it is still relevant. In fact, I'd argue, considering how many reviews Amazon deletes, and how many reviewers they "retire," this blog may be more important today than it was then.]
It is a common myth that indie authors just need to get a few/some/many reviews from friends and acquaintances, then buy an online promotion and their book will (probably) take off.
I am an Amazon reviewer since 2012 and a top reviewer since 2014, hence I can contribute some factual information.
In 2014, I reviewed 75 items on Amazon, including 45 books penned by self-publishing authors.
***Combined, these 45 books received 5,448 reviews.
I know you are raising your eye-brows right now, but it's true.
4 books received only one single review (mine),
6 / 45 books received more than 100 reviews.
11 / 45 books (including the previously mentioned 4 books) received less than half a dozen reviews since 2014.
Ponder this fact for a second: Almost 25% of all indie author books I read and reviewed in 2014 received less than half a dozen reviews since then – in more than two years.
28 / 45 books received a dozen or more reviews but less than 100.
The 6 books with more than 100 reviews received 186, 217, 234, 375, 419, and 872 reviews, respectively.
The astonishing surprise:
The book that received the most reviews is a book that I awarded with only a 2-star review. Obviously, the secret to success is not all about a book being a best book.
I decided to check out this book after I read about it in an online article. Then, in 2014, the book had barely more than 100 reviews. I really thought posting my review would make a difference and encourage others to think twice about spending $2.99 for this particular book.
Still, it is listed an Amazon bestseller with 2,329 reviews.
How does the author do it?
Probably, he has a huge email list. Occasionally, he runs promotions (I personally have seen one 99 cents promo and three promos at full price). Most importantly, he succeeds in getting influential journalists and top bloggers to talk about his book. Not only did I learn about the book from an article, he has been "in the news" – getting featured in seven articles – since January 2017, in only six weeks. Even now, he does not stop promoting his book in media outlets. Altogether, he and his book have been featured in 86 articles.
What is to be learned from this information?
Getting reviews from friends, acquaintances, and colleagues does NOT do the trick.
Remember, four of the books I reviewed did not get reviewed by anybody else, in more than 2 years...
even though ... all four authors networked in FB groups and tweeted their heart out.
According to Pew Research, in 2016:
68% of all online U.S. adults used Facebook, (What about the other 32%?)
32% of all online U.S. adults used Instagram,
29% of all online U.S. adults used Linkedin,
26% of all online U.S. adults used Pinterest,
21% of all online U.S. adults used Twitter.
Only 76% of the U.S. adults who used Facebook logged in daily
(that's only 51% of all online U.S. adults)
only 51% of the U.S. adults who used Instagram logged in daily,
only 42% of the U.S. adults who used Linkedin logged in daily,
only 25% of the U.S. adults who used Pinterest logged in daily,
only 18% of the U.S. adults who used Twitter logged in daily.
Therefore, to really get your book out you and your book need to have a presence in many venues.
Routinely, financial advisers preach, "Diversify your portfolio!"
The same advice applies to book marketing,
Here are 10 ways to get your book seen, bought, and reviewed:
- Join a real "live" book club, e.g. a Meet-up group or book club at your local library,
- Join online book groups (FB, Goodreads, etc.),
- Arrange for book signings at independent book stores,
- Try to get gigs at local library events (about 20% of all US libraries host local author events once or twice per year),
- Offer to guest blog,
- Pitch your local TV-station,
- Pitch magazines (print and online),
- Pitch bloggers who don't blog about books. Remember – you want to get found and noticed by new and different audiences,
- Pitch radio hosts and podcasters,
- Throw a private book party (at a bar or a coffee house) or team up with other local authors to throw a party, together.
Naturally, pursuing a minimum of 5 or 6 of these options requires more work than networking on Facebook (in your pajamas), but it helps to reach many tens of thousands of people who otherwise would have never heard about you and your book, as shown by Pew Research's data.
Many indie authors spend so much time on Facebook that they could pitch two or three publications every day, in half that of the time they spend networking on Facebook.
BEST OF ALL, media coverage doesn't go away. In contrast to online promotions media coverage stays "live" and will promote you and your book – forever!
When during the research for this article I looked up this bestselling author's name I found the 7 articles that had been written about him and his book on Google, in less than 2 seconds. Even potential readers who have never heard of the author and search for different search terms on Google will find the book, by accident, just like I did, too.
Summing it up: Every author needs starter reviews, but the majority of reviews will come by themselves once you expose your book to many audiences.
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