Finding book reviewers 2

The best way of finding book reviewers is Goodreads. I have already mentioned that with the help of the Book Blogs Search Engine I had already found roughly 400 book bloggers. With the help of Goodreads I later managed to find an additional 600.

How? Go to Goodreads.com and type into the search line the title of the book or author you have chosen. You will find many reviews for that book. You can then click on the name of the blogger who wrote the review and you will get his or her profile. And if you find an address of their website there, click on that.


Waiting period for book bloggers

When I read Amanda Hocking’s blog it seemed that all her reviewers read her books in one or two months. Later I found out that Amanda writes young adult fiction. And these are the books that were in greatest demand at that time.
In the case of crime stories, things are slightly different. The waiting period is usually at least 4-6 months. In extreme cases, your book will get read in two months or after more than six months. Some bloggers told me that it would be my book’s turn only in 10 months. I never complicated matters, and always thanked them politely for their reply and accepted any waiting period. 


Finding book reviewers 1

Initially, I used Google: Book Blogs Search Engine.
If you want to find bloggers for the Mystery section, then write the word Mystery into the search engine. Numerous addresses will pop up. You can copy the addresses to Excel. Why? Because some addresses will keep coming up. If you copy them to Excel one below the other, you can then sort the column in alphabetical order and delete the addresses that appear more than once.
This way I found around 400 book reviewers for crime novels. And how many agreed to read my book? Only 30.

You must realize that most bloggers are very busy, so you must be patient.


What do omniscient POV and 3rd person POV actually mean?

In the case of omniscient POV, a number of persons in a chapter can think, feel and see. In 3rd person point of view only one person in a chapter can do all those things. So you can describe only what one person sees and write only about that person’s feelings and thoughts. Some practice is necessary for this, but gradually the rule gets under your skin. And it produces a stronger emotional reaction in the reader. All the books on creative writing recommend 3rd person POV.


The weakest aspects of my writing that critics have pointed out

After a thorough analysis of all the reviews, I realized they were not as bad as those for some other authors. Mostly, they pointed out the following:
·        The main characters are nothing special and rather shallow.
·        The use of omniscient POV (point of view).
·        Some parts of my books drag , even though nearly everyone recognized that my novels were very readable and referred to them as “page turners”.

As a result of this I did the following:
  • I deepened the characters.
  • I changed all three novels so that they are told from a 3rd person viewpoint.
  • I deleted all the parts that did not contain enough suspense. An example: in the book Promise Me Eternity I deleted more than 20% of the text.

What happened:
  • The characters became more likable.
  • The books are full of suspense from start to finish.
  • Because I am now using only the 3rd person POV, readers feel more for the characters, resulting in a stronger emotional experience.


The second reaction to reviews

Later, I came to my senses again. As I had invested a great deal of time and money in writing (translations cost me 33,000$), I decided that there was no way I was going to give up that easily. I began reading books on creative writing. I read at least six and out of all of them I would recommend two that I think every author should read.
  1. Stein On Writing
  2. Writing Fiction For Dummies

One has to be honest with oneself. I had spent months sulking, but when I read all these books on creative writing, I was forced to admit the reviewers were right.
Today I am very grateful to them. In the newer versions of my books, published after December 2012, most of the reviews are taken into account.
However, it is true that many reviewers could have written their criticism in a nicer way. Some were rather too sarcastic and hostile, which is wrong, whatever the reason. A good review must include both positive and negative observations.
But above all I have learnt that what is most important is that a writer creates a strong emotional experience. The book must be full of suspense from the very start, the characters must be strong and likeable, the place where the story takes place must be attractive and there must be a sufficient number of conflicts and events in the book to pull the reader along. It is no use knowing how to use unusual words or how to describe events poetically. The point of novels is not to tell others how clever you are but to create an emotional experience. If you cannot do that, the book will not sell. And the more obscurely you write, the greater the possibility that the readers will not feel what they should feel.


First reactions to reviews

Positive reviews give you energy, whilst negative ones bring you down, especially if the books are not selling as you would like them to. Then you start getting eaten away inside, wondering what is wrong. In my case, this state lasted at least five months, during which I did not even want to think about writing and I decided to throw in the towel for good.


Do book bloggers influence sales?

Definitely. However, you must be aware that an average rating of 4.5 does not necessarily mean good sales, just like an average of 2.5 does not mean that the book is selling badly. I will mention the book Fifty Shades of Grey here, which has for months now been on the 100 bestsellers list. At one point, this book had an average rating of 3.00 and at the moment it is 3.3.
Even before I bought the book Fifty Shades of Grey I read a few reviews of it and was surprised to see that many were extremely bad. If I had written a review of her book, it would not be good either as her writing is terrible. As if it was written by a 13-year old, who has never written anything in her life: sentences keep getting repeated, the vocabulary is very limited, etc.
However, she manages to create a very strong emotional experience, rarely achieved by any other novel. And that is what matters most.
So if you get negative reviews, do not react against them but ask yourself instead if there is any truth in them. And if there is, what are you going to do to avoid getting bad reviews in future.
I take seriously criticism that keeps getting repeated. If a number of people mention one and the same thing, then it is time I have a think about what I must change in future.


The results of sending my book to a large number of critics (book bloggers)

I based my actions on the wonderful experience of Amanda Hocking, whose books began selling a few months after she sent her book to book bloggers. I was not as lucky and many of you probably also not.
Nonetheless, I am very grateful for the experience. I received some very good reviews and some bad ones. I could not understand how one person can write how much he liked my book and then someone else only gives it one star.
At first I was very angry at every negative review. Later I checked the average for Sidney Sheldon’s books – he has sold over 300 million books. His ratings are between 3.2 and 3.6. He also gets many hostile reviews. But on the other hand, there are many people who adore his books.

In addition, the average rating depends on who reads your book. If, for example, you have sent your book all over the place then there is a strong possibility that you have come across some people who will not like it. But if you attract (viral marketing) only those readers who find your writing suits their taste – through, for example, free short stories – your average will be higher.
I will tell you in my future blogs how I reached book bloggers.


Use of Smashwords coupons

A very useful way of offering free books are Smashwords coupons that enable you to offer a specific discount on your books (for example, 50%).
Let me emphasize once more that the use of coupons makes sense only if you promote the book on social networks. If nobody knows you have a promotion on, there will be no sales. Ways of creating coupons can be seen on the following images:


What happens if you are an unknown author and you offer a book free of charge on Smashwords?

In all likelihood you will sell only a few copies as no one actually knows that you have offered a book for free. It will also take a few weeks before the other distributors (Sony, Apple, Barnes & Noble, etc.), supplied by Smashwords, will change their price to 0.00$. One weakness of the internet is that the number of books on offer is huge and you are just a drop in an enormous ocean. Unless you learn how to tell people that your book is free, there is no way they will know. But you should not be talking all the time on social networks about your books and nothing else. The right way is to create a number of friends and acquaintances with whom you will communicate and tell them about your books only when you really need a promotion. Everyone will be glad of a free book and happy to help you by passing on the news about your book to their friends and acquaintances.


Making Amazon offer your book for free for a longer period of time

If you also offer your free book on Smashwords, Amazon will fairly soon begin offering your book free of charge. But you cannot first offer a book for free on Amazon and then elsewhere. I even wrote to them and they told me that this option is not available. I found out only later that Amazon is making comparisons with other sellers all the time. They never want to be more expensive. If, for example, you are offering your book on Smashwords for 2.99$ and you then want to lower its price on Amazon to 0.99$, you will not be able to. The price has to be 0.99$ elsewhere first, only then will Amazon give it the same price. A similar thing happens if you decide to offer your book for free on Smashwords. You will have to wait ten to fourteen days and then Amazon will offer your book for free as well.


What you need to know when you are offering a book for free

Readers who seek free books all the time are open to many new genres, but also rather impatient when reading. This means that if your book is not interesting on the first few pages, they will delete it. As they got it for free, they do not value it. This is why it is very important that interesting events take place right at the start of the book, on the first few pages. Some people download a large number of books, knowing in advance they will only read the best ones.
You should be aware that many people do not read books immediately but download them for when they go on holiday. This means that they will read your book in a few months.
Another danger is that readers who are looking only for free books will perhaps not be ready to pay the normal price of your books, because they think there are so many free books that they cannot possibly read them all anyway.
In addition, when you are offering a book to a wider group of people, you are not actually focusing on your target audience. This may result in more negative reviews than you would otherwise get.
If you have already offered your book for free without any success, you must not despair. Maybe it is better if you find your target audience via Twitter or FB and tell them where they can get your book for free. Or send them a Smashwords coupon for a free book.


Websites on which you can offer a book for free

Here are a few websites:
  1. Get Free Ebooks
  2. Free Online Novels

You must be aware that the market is flooded with free books. In my experience, Amazon is the strongest. Through its KDP Select program you can offer a book for free for a certain period of time. In second place is Get Free Ebooks. From this site, my book Promise Me Eternity was downloaded by approximately 1500 readers in one month. On the website Free Online Novels the same book was downloaded only by around 250 readers.
From what I have managed to find out from various experiences on the internet, you can be very happy if your free book is downloaded by more than 500 readers. Everything over 2000 copies is very, very good.


The results of offering my book for free in KDP Select Program

Initially, the results were pretty good as finally something was moving. I published my first book in early 2011 and did not sell a single copy in the following months. But the moment I began offering books for free, sales started. A problem then arose because later the KDP Select program no longer worked as well as it had at the beginning. At that time I was not using Twitter for additional promotion. An example: in January 2012, I was offering the book Only the Strongest Survive for free and roughly 500 readers downloaded it within four days (every 3 months, you can spend 5 days promoting your book). Only one day was left. I decided on a Sunday. To my surprise, approximately 13,700 readers downloaded it on that day. You can read about it in my BLOG. Why that happened, I do not know. Consequently, I sold 707 books in January, as you can read HERE. But the fact remains that a great deal depends on what else is on offer and the way the electronic system on Amazon happens to be working at that time.
When in April 2012 I offered the same book for free, only approximately 90 readers downloaded it. This meant that the method was no longer working as it had in the beginning and so I decided to leave the KDP Select program, especially because Amazon was getting on my nerves by constantly warning me that my books were for sale elsewhere (Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Sony, etc.).
Later I found out that, in addition to the KDP promotions, you must include social networks, such as Twitter. Only then will the KDP program bring you good enough results.


An example of a free e-Book offer over longer period

The average rating for the book  The One You Love is 3.8. In the past it was even lower. It has many negative reviews, some saying even that the author cannot write at all. But the writer Paul Pilkington realized that arousing an emotional experience is the most important attribute of novels. And he has clearly succeeded in achieving that in his books.
His other two books - The One You Fear and Someone to Save You, which are not free and are selling well, as can be seen from the number of reviews and the ranking, have a higher average ranking of 4.1 till 4.3. The reason for this is that they were read only by those who were happy with the book The One You Love.
If you do not know who your target readers are and you offer your book to everyone, there is a risk that the average rating will be lower than if you offered it only to your target audience.


Free e-Book offer over a longer period

One marketing tactic is to have at least two to three e-Books available and offer one of them for free over a longer period (a few months or years). If your free e-Book is interesting, readers will buy the other e-Books, for which they have to pay.
Even stronger way is to offer one novel for free and one or more short stories. You have more chances that readers will first choose free short story (because they don’t have time) and if they will like it, they will upload also free novel.
However, additional promotion on social networks is also necessary, otherwise between 300 and 1000 readers will download your book, but this will not be of much help to you. 
The number of free e-Books on offer is enormous and readers have consequently become choosy even here. They will not decide that easily to spend a few days reading your e-Book, even if it is free. So you have to persuade them to do so. And free short (10 minutes) story is a good way to do it.
Another fact you must take into account when offering a e-Book for free is that from the moment you publish the book on Smashwords, at least 2 to 3 weeks will pass before the e-Book appears on other bookselling portals, such as Apple, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Diesel, etc. I made the mistake of waiting only 7 days and because the book was not selling, I put the price back to 0.99$. There are many examples when a e-Book sells only a few copies a month, and then sales suddenly grow rapidly. Amazon’s policy is not to sell e-Books for free, but if you will offer your e-Book for $0.00 on other portals, Amazon will soon (after 10 days) change their price to $0.00 too.


How did I improve Amazon ranking from 350.000 to 2.724?

On the 20th of March I decided to put e-Book Only the Strongest Survive on Smashwords.com for free. Yesterday Amazon.com automatically put my book to price $0.00.

Consequently 73 e-Books have been loaded in about 24 hours.

My ranking today is 2.724, which is great.


How do you check you ranking on Amazon?

Let us look at the book: The One You Fear

Below you can see that it ranks in 900th place. You can see it has 150
reviews, which is a lot. The book is selling very well.


Amazon sales ranking

After I offered my book for free in the Amazon KDP select program and it was downloaded by 13,700 readers (you can read about this in my next BLOG), the same book sold really well for another week. The reason was a higher place on the Amazon sales ranking.
In short: the more books you sell, the more Amazon will help you to sell more. The higher on the ranking list you are, easier it will be. It should be your goal to reach the list of 100 bestsellers .
Interesting articles:

So it should be your goal to create a buzz on the social networks even before you offer a book for free. During the promotion, frequently send out the information about the book being free. And after the promotion, post about how successfully the book is selling. If you succeed, Amazon will help you by ranking you higher and the book will really start selling.
A combination of free promotion, Twitter and Amazon ranking can be a very powerful promotional weapon.


Free e-Books

Offering free e-Books can be a very powerful promotion tool, but only if you use at least one social network, where you inform the potential readers that your book is available for free within a certain period. Cheryl Kaye Tardif succeeded in this way, as described in her book How I Made Over $42,000 in 1 Month Selling My Kindle eBooks and she herself admits that she can ascribe 90% of her success to Twitter. So, without Twitter she would not have succeeded as well as she did. And as she had spent quite some time on promotion before, she had a considerable number of friends and followers.
A few days before she began her promotion, she started creating a buzz and during her promotion she sent a tweet nearly every hour. She worked very hard after the promotion as well, informing her friends and followers about her sales.
I have noticed that the KDP select program on Amazon no longer works as well as it did in the beginning. The number of free books available is huge so it is very difficult to succeed without at least one social network.
Another condition is that you have a large number of friends and followers who will send your recommendations to others. It is no use having 10,000 followers on Twitter who never read your tweets or do not care what is happening to you. One of the main conditions on Twitter is that you have a number of friends and acquaintances you communicate with (and not just send promotional tweets about your book), you know something about them and they know something about you, you retweet their posts and they retweet yours. In this way you create a mutual relationship where you help one another. 


What type of a blog should you write?

If you write a blog about a specific subject, it is called Viral Marketing. This means that the information will spread around the internet like a virus. The readers will value your work and keep visiting your blog. They will tell others about it and recommend it.
If I am honest I do not count on my books selling much better because of my blog. Some of you will buy my books out of curiosity and I will be grateful for that. But what I am counting on is getting new friends, with whom I will be able to communicate via e-mail, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
Later I intend to start sending out free short thrillers, which will serve as a magnet for those readers who are interesting in the genre I write. And that is the real viral marketing that turned John Locke into such a success. You can read more about his success in the book:  How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months!
I ask you to contact me also via Twitter or e-mail. I will post on Twitter useful links about publishing and via e-mail you will receive a free short story a few times a year. And I promise you I will not pester you and will advertise my books only occasionally.


My mistakes when I first started writing a blog

Many of you may have made the same mistake that I did when I started writing about myself and my writing.
Whatever you write in your blog will generate a certain number of visitors. Perhaps you will sell the odd book on account of it, but you should be aware that it will only be a drop into the ocean. If you write what you are thinking that day or that you took your dog for a walk or about your children, I can tell you you are wasting your time. All my blogs up to June 29 2012 were a mistake. Some of them were interesting, but most are not.
So, if you decide on writing a blog, you must choose a specific topic about which you will write. It may be gardening or baking or something else. This is the reason why I have decided from now on to write only about publishing electronic books. Believe me, I have searched the internet for everything on publishing. In addition, I have read quite a few interesting books. I will share all this important information and experience with you.


Viral marketing as an aid in the promotion of electronic books

There are many methods of viral marketing, but I will mention only the most important ones:

  • Sending free books. A precondition for this is that you have a number of friends who will send the book on. The best variant is free short stories that the reader can read within 5 to 20 minutes. If the story is interesting and attractive, your friends will send it on. At the end of the book, there has to be a link to your website, where your books can be bought. In this way, you will attract only those readers to your website that are actually asking for the genre of your books. This is one of the strongest promotional weapons, also used by John Locke. You can read more about this in the book: How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months
  • Writing a blog. A blog must be specialized and consequently interesting. The readers will find useful information in it, which will make them happy and they will recommend your blog to their friends and acquaintances. An example of a good blog: A Newbie's Guide to Publishing or Let's Get Digital.
  • Video shot on Youtube. If you record a funny or interesting video shot, you can send it to your friends and acquaintances and they will send it on. The video, of course, has to contain the link to your website.
  • Book Trailers are a short presentation of your book. The same principles apply. If a trailer is interesting, your friends and acquaintances will want to show it to their friends and acquaintances. In contrast to the other three options which are practically free, this method may cost you quite a bit of money. Amanda Hocking uses book trailers as one of the ways in which she promotes her books, for example Trylle Trilogy or Torn.