The Everyday Author

For authors who can't quit their day jobs...yet

Category: PR

How to get book reviews: Book Review 22

It’s a conundrum that’s frustrated authors since books were first sold on the Internet: you can’t sell books without reviews and you can’t get reviews without selling books. The question of how to get book reviews is more vexing than the old chicken and egg scenario. What are we supposed to do then?

If you’re like me, you’ve scraped together a handful of reviews through a variety of tactics: dancing naked beneath the quarter moon in March, begging your mailing list and offering up a second book free in exchange for a review of another. There’s only one catch with the aforementioned moves (aside from the moon dance, that is): you’ve got to have an audience already in place to gain a lot of traction. Now we’re back where we started — how am I supposed to get an audience if no one will read my books because they don’t have any reviews? To be or not to be? That’s not the question for authors. We want to know  how to get book reviews. In just a second I’ll tell you the solution I found.

There’s one or two other things you may have tried, such as scouring the web for book reviewers that have reviewed books similar to yours. (Check out another great post we did about this: Go Pitch Yourself: A case for indie author public relations). Maybe you hired a “publicist” or “Book PR company” to do this for you. Either way, an email was sent about your book and now you’re in a line of to-be-read titles longer than Disneyland during spring break. Worse still, you probably spent countless hours combing through blogs, gathering email addresses and filling out contact forms for bloggers (or paid a so-called publicist or maybe an author assistant to handle this chore). This is precious time spent away from WRITING, which is what you’d rather be doing anyway.

Trust me, I’ve been in this boat — long enough they’re starting to call me the captain.

As an author living in this amazing era of publishing, it astounded me that there wasn’t a better solution out there. As a public relations professional by day, it made me sick to my stomach that “publicists” were charging authors an arm and a leg to write a worthless press release and blast it out to bloggers. (Here’s a little secret: bloggers could care less about press releases.)

On the flip side, I saw how many bloggers were being flooded with books. Not just great books or even good books, either. I started doing my homework and found out bloggers were getting review requests in droves. Many of the books inquiring authors wanted them to review were one of the following:

  • NOT in the genre the reviewer read
  • NOT professionally edited or even proofread
  • NOT finished

In short, bloggers everywhere are pulling their hair out because their inboxes are flooded with crappy books they don’t want to read. This makes it really hard for YOUR book to stand a chance.

Until now, that is.

Book Review 22 Logo FINAL

The results of my research led me to combine my two passions and careers (publishing and public relations) into a new company called Book Review 22. Book Review 22 makes the book review process awesome — for both authors and reviewers. It’s how you get book reviews made simple.

Instead of wasting HOURS of time researching, digging through search results for book blogs, authors fill out a short form with us and we get their books into the hands of reviewers who actually give a rat’s rear end  about reading and reviewing their book. We pitch your book for you to our extensive database of book reviewers and bloggers, leaving you time to do important stuff, like write (you can continue the moon dance if you REALLY want to, I guess). Check out how here.

On the flip side, we work with reviewers to condense all those emails they’re getting into one simple list every few weeks. We help weed out the garbage and make it easy for them to 1. Scan the book cover and synopsis (if a book wasn’t ready to be published, you can often tell from these two things) 2. By partnering with Bookfunnel, we’ve also made it a breeze to download a copy of the book. Reviewers only get pitched for books they actually want to read. What a novel concept! Here’s how it works.

I would have KILLED for a service like this when I started publishing two years ago. After a year of development I’m still just as excited about it: a simple way for authors and reviewers to work together in a win-win relationship.

We’re off the ground and pitching books right now. In the coming months, we’ve got a whole slate of ideas to make this service even better for authors and reviewers. For now, why don’t you give us a test run? Let Book Review 22 pitch your book and you can get back to the stuff that you really care about: writing books.

Go pitch yourself: a case for indie author public relations

Note: for an in-depth discussion on public relations and indie authors, please check out Episode 100 of the Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast.

Public Relations gets a bad rap in the indie publishing community and it’s definitely not unwarranted. Along with many other service providers, so-called “PR agents” (read: snake oil salesmen) lifted thousands of dollars from clueless authors who thought having a press release written for their book would land them on the Today Show. To a full-service PR agency, these poor authors were (and unfortunately in some cases still are) low-hanging dollar bills on the money tree. With little to show for all the money they shoveled into PR, the general consensus among indie authors is that public relations is an awful drain on  your already lean budget. There’s a difference, however, between the usefulness of hiring a public relations consultant and implementing a public relations strategy for  yourself.

While hiring a PR agency is most likely one of the worst decisions you can make as an everyday or mid-list author (heck, probably as an author at any level) taking the time to learn the basics of PR can open doors you never thought possible.

Much like publishing, the public relations industry is going through a dramatic shift. Our job used to be relatively straightforward: write a press release, hold a press conference and wait for the cameras and journalists to start rolling in. You could get your message out to everyone you wanted to talk to with an appearance on the five o’clock news and the morning paper. But those days are long gone.

Today, we operate in world where traditional media are all vying for a piece of the dwindling viewership pie. Everyone and their dog (read: hardly anyone) watches the evening news or read the paper — online or not — anymore. Traditional print, radio and television media operate in a pay-to-play world where content goes to whoever wants to write the check. Audiences are fragmented worse than survivors in a post-apocalyptic world, they congregate in small tribes and niche markets and ignore messaging from everywhere else. The good news? This fragmented tribal world is one we as indie authors are already old hands at living in.

To survive in the indie landscape, one must harness a wide array of skills, ranging from email marketing to copy writing and digital advertising, to name a few. Simple public relations, done right, can be an equally powerful arrow in this quiver.

Bear with me here. Don’t get scared off. For starters, it all boils down to one thing: learning to pitch.

What is a pitch, you ask? The shortest way to put it is what you tell people to convince them to give you the time of day. It’s the why-should-I-give-a-damn-about-this-shmoe factor. In email form, it’s the evolved, vertically-challenged relative of that archaic thing we used to call press releases.

As an author, you’re pitching people every day, even if you don’t realize it. Your author bio, your book synopsis, those are pitches. Those are the why-should-I-give-a-damn-about-this-shmoe-isms. However, you’re also pitching whenever you ask a reviewer to read your book, ask a podcaster if you can come on their show or email a fellow author to suggest guest posting on their blog.

Although authors may not technically be competing against one another for readers, we are competing against one another for the things I mentioned above. We’re competing to stand out in a massive crowd of fellow authors shouting BUY MY BOOK to the world. Don’t you want to be the author whose voice gets heard?

We’ll get into how to pitch with Part 2 in this series, but for right now, consider this: learning how to be your own PR agent could be the tool in your author toolbox that sets you apart from the crowd.

What has your experience been with public relations in the past? Was it good or bad?

wpid-imag0065_1-e1410915663557-960x913Derek Alan Siddoway ( D_Sidd) always thought he wanted to be a paperback writer. Instead, he broke into the self-publishing world in 2013 when he realized there had to be a better use of his time than writing queries to agents. Converted by the fellowship of indie authors, he never looked back. Now, he’s the Founding Father of Undaunted Publishing, a hybrid publishing house combining the best of traditional and self publishing, and the author of Teutevar Saga, an epic/historical fantasy series with a “medieval western” twist. Learn more at derekalansiddoway.com.

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