Last week, I started us off on a month-long exploration of one of my favorite subjects: the intersection of reading with writing and publishing!  It’s almost too easy, given that March is National Reading Awareness Month, too.  And as I said last month: here at Self-Publishing Advisor, we love the fact that there’s an entire month devoted to celebrating the written word–as well as the ways in which we can spread the joy of literacy–and I would like to invite you to continue joining me in making reading a focus all month long, here in our Thursday blog post slot.  


March may not typically be a month you think of to get started on a major project, or finish pushing said project through the publishing pipeline, but really, there’s no better time: the weather is getting warmer but where I live it’s still quite slushy and prohibitive to long road trips––perfect!  I always try to make use of this halfway-survivable weather to knock out some major projects while also taking some short local expeditions to my favorite spots in order to shake off the winter blues.

Sometimes, however, especially when I’m bouncing back from the Winter Blues, I find myself searching around a bit for a good starting point, or a way to pick back up the threads I dropped before the holiday frenzy set in, and before I got wrapped up in everything that follows (sending kids off to school, dealing with tax season, and so on).  So, I did a little brainstorming and came up with some more tips for kicking things back into gear, and making good on the potential promised by such an ambitious theme as National Reading Awareness Month!  (You can read my first four tips here.)

TIP FIVE : Ask for book reviews  

Research has shown that positive reviews makes a book sell better.  In fact, reviews written by people who have read your book often carry more weight than reviews by recognized experts!  Just think: the last time you went hunting for a new book to read, which held the most weight for you?  The blurb on the back cover?  Celebrity endorsements?  A four or five-star review on Goodreads and Amazon?  A really thorough and useful review on one of those sites?  Or word-of-mouth recommendation?  Most people would rank these metrics in reverse order, with one notable exception: a high star rating on Amazon and Goodreads is a defining factor between those people who click through to read reviews and those who keep scrolling on by.

So how do you get reviews?  We’ve written about them before here on Self-Publishing Advisor (here, for example) but in summary: be proactive.  Very few authors can rely on reviewers coming to them!  There are plenty of ways to drive book reviews, but the most important ones include offering giveaways in exchange for reviews, soliciting reviewers through easily-googled book review index websites, and simply asking for them.  You can ask for reviews even before your book is published by offering to send the reviewer a digital copy of your book.  The key to all of these interactions is not to come off as pushy or fake.  Reviewers tend to respond well to simple requests, either favorably or with regret at not being available.

USA, New Jersey, Jersey City, View across the shelf showing girl (8-9) reading book

TIP SIX: Request peer reviews

Remember how effective word-of-mouth recommendations are?  Well, another way to get the review ball rolling is to ask friends who have already read your manuscript to write a review.  Because they have a personal connection with you, the author, they’re far more likely to do so––and far more likely to become advocates for your book––if you ask them to take on official review duties.  Since writing these reviews can be time-consuming and they may suffer low confidence if they’ve had little or no review-writing experience, you might have a couple of really good sample reviews (of your book or someone else’s) on hand for them to look at.  That way, they’ll know some of the standard language used in reviews, and also get a sense for how diverse and unique each review can be!  The point of asking your peers to review your book is to get little pops of personality bleeding through the pixels of your Amazon book page––readers love the authenticity of a person who admits a real human connection to an author, and speaks honestly from that privileged position, with all the insight into the book’s backstory that they’re now privy to. 

Businessmen working together
TIP SEVEN : Create a mailing list or Facebook group  

Last but not least––for this week, anyway––you should actively seek out readers who might be interested in reading your book.  You are probably already doing this at both personal or professional meetings as well as at conferences, book club meetings, your kids’ Mother Goose sessions at the library, and so on.  The next step is to turn these casual conversations into something a bit more structured and organized; ask if you can send these potential new readers information about your book, then add them to your mailing list.  You can use the built-in mailing list features in desktop-based versions of Microsoft Outlook, or you can look to the Cloud and to web-based softwares like MailChimp.  I don’t necessarily think of social media as a substitution for these valuable programs, but you should also consider creating a Facebook group in addition to your mailing list, and take full advantage of the intersectionality of that platform––through Facebook alone, you can schedule events, send private messages and post public announcements, upload pictures, and find new readers.  Well worth a little exploration, I think!

Small Business Revolution - Bluegrass Youth Ballet

I’ll be back next week with some more tips!  And …

… always remember: you are not alone. ♣︎

ElizabethABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.



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