My Self Publishing Adventure – Episode Six – The Importance of Book Reviews
Last time I said there were two things I needed to try. The first was to get more Twitter followers, not just anyone, but people who might enjoy the types of books I write. The second was to find people willing to review my books.
To accomplish the first, I used Twitter to search for people who read e-books by some of my favorite authors. My books are not “like” theirs but there are commonalities in style and genre. My assumption is that people who like the books I like to read will also like books I write. The authors I picked were Terry Pratchett and George C. Hines. Both write humorous fantasy. My books aren’t fantasy; they’re science fiction but they share the more important factor of a satirically humorous tone. I used Twitter to find people who have tweeted “Kindle” and “Pratchett” or “Kindle” and “Hines.” I followed those who seemed appropriate and some followed me back. I have gained over fifty followers in the last two weeks (315 from 253) but none of these contacts resulted in any book sales as far as I can tell. One thing I am beginning to suspect is that Twitter is not a very good way to promote books. It seems to be a good way to connect with other indie writers though.
The second thing I said I would do is search for people willing to review my books, or at least the first one. On thing traditionally published books have that indie books don’t is the publisher’s implied guarantee that their books are quality products, that they are coherent, consistent and relatively free of typos and other errors. The only thing an indie writer really has that is comparable is book reviews. Even these are no assurance of quality because reviews can be bought or traded but I think they are the best we have at this point. So, with that in mind, I searched the web and Goodreads for reviewers. I avoided any that charged for reviews or any that implied they would provide positive reviews in exchange for other positive reviews. I wanted only objective reviews. I found sixteen sites that indicated they might be willing to review e-books by indie authors on this basis and I sent requests to all of them.
Most of the sixteen sites had specific rules to follow to request reviews. A review request should be treated much as a query to an agent or traditional publisher. If you are requesting a review, you need to follow those guidelines. I used a draft query letter I had prepared before I decided to self publish as the basis for my review requests. All wanted a free copy of the book, which I was more than happy to provide. So far I have received seven positive replies. Here is a list:
- Enter the Portal
- Kindle Book Review
- Maria Violante
- Novel Opinion
- Sift Book Reviews
- Rainy Day Ramblings
- Kate Policani’s Reviews
Although most of these indicated that it may be months before my book reaches the top of their queue, one has already completed theirs. I was extremely pleased to see it was a five-star rating. It is here if you would like to see it: Marie Violante’s review of The Warden Threat. Shortly after this review was posted to Amazon, I got one sale at the list price of 99¢. I don’t know if this is directly attributable to this review or not but the timing suggests that.
My plan forward from this point is to put less focus on Twitter as a means to promote my books and keep an eye out for additional reviewers. I am also continuing work on my third book. The first draft is almost complete.
Two things I am still debating are the prices for my already published books and the publication strategy for the third. At this point I plan to delay increasing the price of The Warden Threat and The Warden War until next year and leave the introductory price of 99¢ in effect until then. What I am less certain of is whether to self publish the next book, The Warden Pendant, or send queries to agents and publishers. Fortunately, I still have a few months to make that decision. Much depends on whether the first two books gain any kind of following.