For a variety of reasons many industry publications will not review self-published or print-on-demand (POD) titles. But what many authors don’t realize is that their titles are eligible for paid review services, regardless of whether they are self, independently, or traditionally published. So what exactly does a paid review entail? Well, it’s a guaranteed review written by a professional reviewer; it will be well written and suitable for marketing and promotional use.
Darcie Chan is a successful author who opted to purchase paid reviews for her novel The Mill River Recluse. She said, “I hoped it would lend some credibility . . . Most other reviewers won’t touch it.” Read more about Chan .
There’s no guarantee that your paid review will be positive. It will be candid, professional, and honest, but neither you nor your publisher/publicist/distributor can (or should) influence the tone of the review. As the author, you decide if the review should be available to the public, so an unfavorable review won’t hurt your book’s reputation or sales. Should you decide to pay for a review, you have several options:
Kirkus offers standard or express service with pricing for each. Your 250-350 word review will be written by a qualified reviewer from their pool of librarians, business executives, national journalists, PhDs, and other professional reviewers. Once complete, it is up to you whether or not to make your review public. You can publish it on the Kirkus website, use the review for your own marketing purposes, or even print it on your book cover. Kirkus provides guidelines for using excerpts from their reviews and you should follow their terms closely, especially if printing a quote from the review on your book cover.
Foreword Clarion promises an objective 400-500 word review by highly qualified reviewers. Once again, the choice is yours to make the review public or not. If you choose to post your review on the ForeWord website, it will also be licensed to the top three wholesale databases and made available to your publisher.
Publishers Weekly has a supplemental print and online publication called PW Select, which features bibliographic, editorial, and marketing information for selected books. Registering for PW Select enters your book for review. About 25% of books registered will be chosen for review in the bimonthly issues.
Paid professional reviews can have a positive impact on your book. When traditional publications are not interested in reviewing, this is a great option to provide crucial feedback that you have the freedom to use however you like.
Have you commissioned a paid review? What was your experience?
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The short answer is “Yes!” Goodreads—the popular social reading site—is a free promotional tool for authors, so there’s really no reason not to be. And with eleven million readers on the site, reaching out to them is well worth your time.
A Goodreads author account allows you to add photos, blog posts, videos, and a biography, and allows you to share info about upcoming events directly with readers.
The amount of time it takes to maintain a Goodreads author profile varies. But, like all social media efforts, the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. The more you update, post, and interact on Goodreads, the more you’ll get followers of your page, contestants in your giveaways, and contributors to your discussion board. You can even sync your current blog with your Goodreads page—that way, the time and effort you put into blogging will go twice as far.
If you’re really interested in fleshing out your profile you can add groups or host a Q&A session. Goodreads features several of these Q&As in its monthly newsletter, and you can request that yours be included. GoodReads is also a great place to host book giveaways, which lead to increased interest in your book and, hopefully, positive reviews. On average, Goodreads gets 650 entries per giveaway—that’s 650 new people aware of your title. The only thing you have to pay is the cost of shipping the books out to winners (and you specify the number of winners before the giveaway goes live).
Goodreads also sells ads, which they recommend but do not require you to use in conjunction with giveaways. Their ads use one of the billing formats offered by Facebook—cost per click. Their default per-click price is $0.50, but you can bid higher or lower than that. Just keep in mind that the amount you bid affects how often your ad is shown. Goodreads also factors in the duration of your ad campaign. So if you’re accepting entries for a giveaway for thirty days and want to run an ad that whole time with a $90 budget, GoodReads will show your ad each day until it gets clicked on six times and then take it down until the next day.
The goal of all this is greater name and brand recognition and more fans, reviews, and sales. Unfortunately, because Goodreads doesn’t sell books themselves, they can’t give statistics on sales. But they can introduce your brand and book to a broad range of readers and give you data on ratings, reviews, shelves you’ve been added to (“to read” being by far the most common), and the number of new fans added. All this data will help you determine whether your effort is paying off.
So, go get a Goodreads author account! (Or, if you’re already on the Goodreads bandwagon, upgrade your account from regular person to author.)
More questions? See the FAQ page or ask us below.
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In a perfect world, each person who bought your book would review it online, building your cachet and sending your title higher in search results. Then, based on that exposure, more people would buy your book and each write reviews of their own.
Of course, it doesn’t happen that way in real life. The majority of people who read your book won’t review it. So how do you get those initial reviews that drive demand and make your book show up earlier in search results? Simple: You give away free copies in exchange for honest reviews—which occasionally means that you’ll give away a copy in exchange for a negative review. Sadly, that’s inescapable, as is the fact that no one who receives a promotional copy is obligated to write a review. Even with professional reviewers, there’s no guarantee.
The easiest way to distribute these free copies is through your blog or Twitter account. Try hosting a simple giveaway. Encourage people to enter by answering a question correctly or simply by sending you their mailing address, and then randomly select one (or several) of them to receive a copy—and don’t forget to sign it before you put it in the mail. The only downsides to this exceedingly easy method are those mentioned above: the recipients are under no obligation to write a review, and you have no control over the tone or content of that review if they do decide to write it.
Many publishers have their own book giveaway sites targeted at bloggers and reviewers. Niche publishers are especially likely to use their sites to develop relationships with reviewers interested in their authors’ work. Ask your publisher whether they have such a program; they may be able to send out promotional review copies with no work on your part. (If your publisher is Greenleaf, I can answer that question for you right now—we do use of a variety of giveaway sites, and we are currently working on a way to offer giveaway copies to consumers through our Facebook page.)
Goodreads is another great forum for giveaways, and it’s especially effective, since you’re putting your book the hands of enthusiastic readers. Amazon offers a great paid promotional review service—Amazon Vine—through which the site’s top reviewers are recruited to review your book. When one of these reviewers writes about your book, it stays at the top of the book’s Amazon page forever, giving your book some extra credibility (assuming the review is good). This is another method that can be greatly simplified by having your publisher do it for you. It does have a few setbacks, though: you are required to give away a minimum of twenty-five books as opposed to sending one out to each potential reviewer, and second, Amazon Vine reviewers choose what they want to review. To some reviewers, getting your $20 book for free may not be as enticing as getting, for example, a $250 vacuum for free.
The Internet is chock full of other means for you to get your books out to interested reviewers—explore some of them and decide which ones best suit your audience and align with your goals. And don’t sweat the occasional bad review. Fifty Shades of Grey has plenty of one-star reviews on Amazon and no love from literary critics, but E. L. James seems to be doing just fine.
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Title: Free Fall
Author: Rae Padilla Francoeur
Publisher: Seal Press
Free fall, Rae says, is a choice: Let go. Be here now. Open up to the possibilities. Stop trying to control everything.
In a word, Free Fall is beautiful. It startles with skillful prose and vivid imagery, creating a sensation that is both unexpected and eye-opening. As you read, you feel as though you have been let in on a secret, viewing every stark detail of the author’s life as she deals with stress and struggles and learns to let go and enjoy a furtive love affair.
The label of “erotic memoir” is somewhat misleading. Though there are distinct and graphic erotic passages, at its heart this book reveals a journey, an awakening after many years of strict adherence to duty as Rae stands beside a man deteriorating from mental and physical disease. The reader partakes in every sensation, every high and low, as they are surrounded by layers of textures, smells, sounds, and emotions. After experiencing her life this way, it is impossible to judge her.
This book was a joy and a welcome surprise to read. I recommend it for those looking to view the world with all of their senses, free of judgment and full of beauty, no matter where they are in life and love.
Do you have an independently published nonfiction book released in the past year that you would like reviewed? Learn more here.
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As you may know, the Big Bad Book Blog was designed to educate and support the publishing community as a whole, without regard for the model behind an author’s work. While it’s simple enough to educate across publishing models, it’s another thing to assist in the almighty quest to have one’s work be seen. As it stands, independently published authors receive little recognition through traditional media. It’s an unfortunate but understandable reality that most promotion channels available to authors are more supportive of books published through traditional publishers—often referred to as the “Six Sisters”. And we’re all too aware that book reviews as a whole are disappearing at an alarming rate.
So, to continue our mission of educating authors and supporting new voices, we are happy to announce the addition of a new recurring feature on the Big Bad Book Blog—Big Bad Book Reviews! To be clear, we (hopefully) will not be reviewing “bad” books—nor do we pledge a series of “bad” book reviews. We do promise to be “bad” in the vein of the 1980s Michael Jackson song and our blog’s masthead by challenging the publishing status quo and giving voice to the independent author through book reviews.
Starting in August, a member of our staff will review an independently published nonfiction work on our blog each week. To be eligible, the book must follow these guidelines:
- Must be an original nonfiction piece
- Must be either published through an independent publisher or self-published (traditionally published work will not be reviewed)
- Cannot be published or distributed by Greenleaf Book Group and/or its affiliated imprints (if we represent the book, it’s a given that we love it)
- Must be published within the last year
- Must include an author bio and contact information, including an email address and links to the author’s online presence
To submit your book for review, please send your book to the following address:
Greenleaf Book Group
Attn: Big Bad Book Review
P.O. Box 91869
Austin, TX 78709
To ensure accurate and timely delivery, label your package with the address exactly as it is posted above. Once your book is received, you will be sent an email confirmation. We will review one book per week and post reviews on Fridays starting in August. If you have any questions about the process, you may contact Shennandoah at email@example.com or at 512-891-6100.