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The How and Why of Asking for Book Reviews

February 19, 2014

So, you’ve finally got your printed book in your hands after months (if not years) of painstakingly pouring yourself into it. Want people to like your work and give it positive reviews, but aren’t sure how to go about getting them? Here are a few key tips for getting readers to review your book.

 

Just Ask!

You could always try the simplest and most effective, yet often overlooked, option of just asking for reviews. If you’re giving away copies of your book, directly selling your book to readers at conferences, or connecting with them at book signings, why not simply ask readers for a review? All it takes is saying, “If you enjoy reading my book, I hope you will take the time to post a brief review online at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.” By just planting that seed at the outset, you’ll have a much better chance of readers taking the time to write a review upon finishing your book.

 

Include a Note

If you are not directly meeting your readers, you can always include a handwritten note to giveaway contest winners or to the recipients of your Advance Review Copies (aka ARCs or galleys). This simple act creates a connection with the reader that will make them more apt to review your book.

 

Email Your Subscriber List

If you’ve built a great base of readers by sending out a regular newsletter, those readers and fans are already invested in your content as a writer so reaching out to them when publishing a new book is a definite must. By tapping into an engaged and loyal fan base of readers you greatly maximize your potential for reviews.

 

Utilize Social Media

Never underestimate the power of a tweet or Facebook post in reaching readers. This is another great avenue to reach new readers as well as fans who are already engaged in your content. A tweet or post letting your social media communities know that you have a new book and would love online reviews is an excellent idea as long as you don’t make your profiles a sales platform. A well-balanced social media presence in which you create a conversation with your readers and provide value for them is the key to effective online communications. As long as you maintain a good balance between information and promotion, then readers will be excited to read and review your upcoming book.

 

Give in Order to Receive

Another great way to garner reviews is to write reviews for other authors of books within your niche. Doing so will help build goodwill with fellow authors in your space and credibility amongst your readers as an expert in the field. Providing honest, sincere, and thoughtful reviews often elicits the same kind of reviews in return.

 

Consider Key Messaging

The message that you want to convey to readers when asking for reviews is that you are eager for their honest feedback, as opposed to simply seeking praise for your book. The great importance of clearly articulating this message is that it shows you genuinely care about your readers and are invested in their reading experience.

 

Of course, it bears repeating that you must be prepared to thoughtfully accept all the reviews you receive—good, bad, and indifferent. As the old saying goes, “any publicity is good publicity,” and that is true even of lukewarm reviews, since each one can be taken as insight into the minds of your readers. If you reflect upon your reviews and take stock of what readers are saying, that feedback will ultimately help in developing your skills as a writer. Listen to your readers—they will tell you what they want more (and less) of.

 

There are myriad strategies for authors to use when seeking book reviews. If you’re interested in learning more about paid review opportunities, check out Greenleaf’s great post on professional review options.

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Online Bios—Are You Always the Same You?

February 12, 2014

This month we're looking at another way that authors can improve their online platforms and get a fresh start in the new year. Today, our focus is on streamlining the many online bios we all have. 

Over the holidays, my wife and I went to a party where there were a lot of kids. At one point, a man dressed as Santa came out and surprised the kids with gifts. Half an hour later, I was getting a cookie at the snack table, and a man I'd met earlier with glasses and black hair grabbed a cookie of his own and said, "Wow, that was great fun!" I blinked at him for a few seconds before I realized what he meant…he had been dressed as Santa Claus, but I didn't recognize him and make the connection.

Does this ever happen to you on social media? If you're like a lot of authors, you've got a personal website, a Twitter profile, a Facebook fan page, an Amazon author page, and who knows how many other profiles on sites like Goodreads, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, etc. If you're even more like a lot of those authors, the photos and descriptions on those different sites are not all the same—but they should be!

 In a fragmented online environment, it's important to present the same personal brand across networks.

 Streamlining Your Online Bios

  • Research. Figure out which photos and bio text you have on which sites. Create a simple spreadsheet to track which bio photo you use on each profile, then copy/paste the bio text from each profile into the spreadsheet. It will be tempting to start replacing photos or retyping bios as you go, but don't do it. It's too easy to get bogged down rewriting that bio on the spot or getting frustrated by the photo upload process. Just log them all first, then come back and change them once you've decided on which photo and bio version you want to use.
  • Photos. Now that you know what you have, it's time to choose what you want. Select one bio photo that you want to use on all of your social networks. For some tips on what makes a good online bio photo, read this ClickinMoms article and make sure all of your online profiles use the same image. It's normal to have some old photos floating around on networks you don't use much, or attached to an old email account. It's worth it to dig in and make sure you consistently use the same photo on every network. 
  • Bio Text. This may take a little longer, but it's well worth it. Readers could first encounter you via any of your online profiles, and you want those readers to get the same impression of you no matter which site they’re on. Distill your online bio into 2 or 3 sentences and use it consistently across all networks, then go back to each network and paste in your new master bio. When there is a constraint on how much you can write, for example on Twitter, choose keywords that convey what is most important to your personal brand. 

(This post is the second in a series of three devoted to platform development in the new year. Look for the next installment in March!)

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Happy Pub Day!

February 5, 2014

All of us at Greenleaf Book Group send congratulations and best wishes to our authors who have books launching in February.

Game the Plan by Christopher Cabrera

Optimal Living 360 by Sanjay Jain, M.D., M.B.A.

The Reboot with Joe Juice Diet by Joe Cross

Your Vibrant Heart by Cynthia Thaik, M.D.

Reversing the Senses by Martin Hubbard

The Giving Prescription by Courtney Clark

Wellness to the Core by Dr. Jason Sonners

Integrative Nutrition by Joshua Rosenthal

Ask More, Get More by Michael Alden

Ward Allen: Savannah River Market Hunter by Jack Cay, Jr.

The Last Akaway by Gary Karton

Rhythm by Patrick Thean

StoryBranding 2.0 by Jim Signorelli

 

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How to Find the Best Influencers

January 29, 2014

Amidst the clamor of new and recycled ideas that make up the current book market, making your voice heard above all the noise can be difficult. Losing your voice in the clutter can also present real obstacles to your author brand, which means that marketing your book is more important than ever before. Finding the best influencers to help promote your book by offering honest, constructive feedback is an essential part of this marketing process. So…how do you find these people?

The first question, of course, is how do you identify your best influencers? There is no cut-and-dried answer to this question, as every individual author platform requires its own tailored circle of influencers based on project goals and brand vision; however, the best place to start is by selecting influencers who already have a strong following and a loyal audience, also known as a platform. These individuals are experts in their fields who have garnered a fan base across a variety of social media outlets, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and blogs that they use as a platform to launch and spread their ideas. Just as their name suggests, these people have the unique ability to influence your intended audience because they already have command over some portion of the market. If they have already effectively captivated an audience, their endorsement is a great starting point to help you launch your unique ideas out into the world.

 If it’s important that you spread your ideas far and wide, as is the case for most author brands, selecting influencers from a variety of sectors is essential. Although you may be inclined to focus all your efforts on one audience, for example academia, expanding your outreach to other arenas like the corporate or government sectors allows your ideas to reach new audiences who may benefit from your expertise. This process not only furthers the spread of your ideas but may offer you, as an author, insight into the future of your brand.

All that being said, it’s also crucial to remember that not all of the influencers in your circle will always agree with or endorse your ideas, and that’s okay! Your critics may often be your allies, as they can add credibility to your ideas and your brand as a whole. Your vision as an author is just that, your vision, so don’t be discouraged by constructive criticism.

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Ship It in the New Year!

January 22, 2014

 

Ah, the first month of the new year. There's that crisp morning air, the sense that everything is starting fresh, and, of course, the chance to make a resolution. A lot of authors we know resolve something like, "I'm going to write more." And that's great—more books make us happy! But, from one book geek on the couch with a tin full of Christmas cookie crumbles and a carton of eggnog to another, it's not enough. One of your resolutions needs to be: 

 

"In 2014, I will develop my author platform."

 

In the coming weeks, we'll be looking at different ways you can do that. Today, let's talk about shipping.

 

Stop Talking… Ship! 

 

But wait, you say, this post is about online platform development—like blogging and social media and stuff, right? Yes, it is. But the backbone of any platform, and the purpose of having that platform in the first place, is the actual work you create. 

 

In the new year, we all make lists of the new projects we plan to start. But before you start too many new projects, take some of that refreshed energy you have after the holidays and commit to finishing the most important one.

 

1. Take Inventory. Write down all of the projects, big and small, that you're working on right now or were working on over the last few months of 2013. Not the novel you've been working on for years, but the shorter projects you were making progress on—the meaningful blog post you know your readers will love, the new story you've been playing with, the eBook you've been endlessly drafting, the supplemental videos or worksheets for your book, or maybe that email newsletter you've been meaning to send out.

 

2. Choose. Pick one of them that you can finish in a month, or even by the end of this week.  The key in this step is to narrow the list down to just one thing. That's your focus. Make sure it's a project you can prioritize and one that you'll be psyched to finish. You will ship it in February. 

 

3. Finish it. Do what you need to do to make it happen. There are many potential reasons why you didn't finish this project last year. If your big demon is fear of failure, read Seth Godin on dealing with resistance. If it's time management, Zen Habits has a great post on some simple-but-effective approaches. If it's productivity in general, check out this list of the 20 best productivity apps from last year.

 

4. Ship It! Get it out to your readers. Imagine the boost to your online author platform if you start the year off by sending everyone something that's complete rather than sending them a list of what you're thinking about starting to work on. 

 

(This post is the first in a series of three devoted to platform development in the new year. Look for the next installment in February!)

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