Sunday, November 22, 2015

Your Novel Doesn't Sell? You Can Change That. (Part Six)

This is Part Six in my ongoing series about how one might fix a novel that is languishing.

F) Once your book is published at an affordable price ($4 or less on Kindle), you need to get reviews, especially consumer reviews on Amazon. Amazon reviews have become one of the single most important things for a writer's career. The more reviews your book has, the more significant it will seem to potential readers, and the more it will sell. In fact, if you have a great, pro cover and lots of reviews, it absolutely will sell in some degree, which is no small thing considering that hundreds of thousands of books on Amazon have never sold a single copy. How can you tell? If the book doesn't have a "sales ranking" number, it has never sold. Of course, once your cover and reviews convince someone to buy your book, it is the quality of the story and its editing that determine if they spread the word and buy your future books.

The problem is, reviews for new authors don't happen spontaneously. Most estimates say that you will only get a spontaneous review on Amazon for every 200 - 300 books you sell. In the beginning, it is very difficult to sell 300 books! Do you know 300 people who will buy your book just because you are their friend? I certainly didn't when I started out.

And the unfortunate reality is that most people - even those who adore a novel - will not write a review. They simply don't think of it. They may love your book so much that they write you a glowing email, but they don't think to write a review. Unless you ask them. Then, many of them will be eager to write a review and do whatever they can to help.

So you need to ask for reviews. (Yes, I know you're an introvert. All writers are. Why else would we choose to spend thousands of hours alone, toiling away on a novel? But we have to learn to do some of those things that come naturally to extroverts. Like sending out an email to someone, even - gasp - a stranger, and ask for help.)

To ask for reviews, simply write (don't call on the phone because that puts people on the spot) and politely ask people you know, people you've heard about who read or belong to local book clubs, book bloggers, people you meet at book-related events, etc., if you may give them a signed review copy in exchange for review consideration. Stress that there is no obligation. Many people will be happy to help. They can write in their review that they received a free copy in exchange for honest review consideration. (Note that this is another reason to join writers groups, critique groups, and book clubs, as they become good possibilities for book reviews.)

Here's something to remember about asking for reviews. If any publisher wants a review in Publishers Weekly, or Library Journal, or Booklist, or dozens of other review journals, THEY HAVE TO ASK FOR IT. Reviews aren't automatic for anybody. Publishers send out ARCs (Advance Review Copies) and ask for a potential review. So asking for a review isn't groveling, it is the norm in this business.

Stay tuned for the seventh and penultimate serving of ideas...

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