We last talked to medieval western and fantasy author Derek Alan Siddoway in Episode #100 about PR and networking strategies for authors. This week we catch up with Derek and find out how things have been going for him the past 18 months.
Book Review 22 (Discount Code for RSP Listeners: SIMONSAYS)
It’s been 18 months since Episode #100 when we talked to Derek about how he was putting his day-job PR skills to work in his author career. Since then, he has been busy expanding his network through continuous outreach, working on his excellent author resource website The Everyday Author, and, of course, writing. He’s got two second-draft novellas cooling their heels in the wings, a frontier fantasy/medieval western anthology he put together called Swords for Hire (with another one, Lone Wolf, soon forthcoming), and a prequel perma-free novella published as a lead magnet for his fantasy series Teutevar Saga.
Best Seller Quest
Coming up next on his writing schedule is a Young Adult/New Adult fantasy trilogy that he is building from outline to finished book using strategies and techniques borrowed from John L. Monk and Chris Fox of Write to Market and Launch to Market fame (among many other noteworthy things).
Derek plans to share the making of his upcoming trilogy from draft to publication in a series of blog posts and video clips called Bestseller Quest. While every author is faced with the same hurdles, Derek is interested in highlighting the Everyday Author perspective as someone who is still working a day job versus the approach of a full-time author already generating a living.
Book Review 22
Book reviews are a critical element in a book’s success, but getting good quality reviews involves a lot of hard work. Derek recommends personalized outreach to top reviewers and book bloggers who have demonstrated enthusiasm for a book similar to your own, which means a lot of research and email-writing.
The most common denominator among all authors is we don’t have enough time. Most authors would rather be writing than spending what time they do have painstakingly researching potential reviewers and inviting them to take a chance on their book. Not only does it feel like cold-calling (it kind of is) and is uncomfortable, but their efforts will result in one of probably hundreds of emails that a blogger receives each day. Even so, putting in that extra effort will help you stand out from the crowd and increase your chances of getting more quality reviews for your book.
As Derek points out, “You can send a thousand vanilla template emails to people, and you might hear back from five, where if you take the same amount of time to just send 10 emails, I would almost guarantee you’re going to get better results. That might not mean that the blogger actually reviews your book, but it could at least mean they reply to you,” which could open the door to building an ongoing relationship. Derek also reminds authors that “a free copy of your book is not an incentive for a blogger who gets literally hundreds of other indie authors and, in some cases, maybe even receiving free copies of traditionally published books to review.”
It takes quality effort to get quality results, but many authors would rather spend the time writing more new books.
So Derek created Book Review 22, a service that pitches authors’ books to “legitimate, real-life book lovers who review in your genre.” Reviewers download books they’re interested in through a BookFunnel link, and then post their review or feedback wherever they like, although most of the feedback given is on Amazon or goodreads, Derek says.
The service takes about eight weeks to complete and costs $60.
Over the course of the first two weeks, Book Review 22 will pitch your book in emails sent out to targeted readers and reviewers. After this pitch period, BR22 will follow up with readers over the next four to six weeks, reaching out to people that downloaded the book, encouraging them to leave their feedback and links where feedback was posted. At the end of this outreach period, BR22 will forward all the links to the author, effectively saving the author hours of time doing it themselves.
Advice to New Authors:
Derek encourages authors to sit down at the start of the new year and make a very specific plan of what they want to achieve in the coming year. Break it down month by month, week by week, and even day by day if necessary, and then follow through with it.
Because Derek has a day job and is working on multiple projects, he recognizes that his projects might go at a slower pace overall…but by keeping to his plan, he ensures that he stays on track and gets things done.
Action Steps to Getting More Quality Reviews for Your Book:
- Make a list of five comparable books to your own. The books should be similar to your own in more than just genre. Look for similar covers or subgenres, things that readers who love those books might love about yours.
- Read the reviews of each comparable book on either Amazon or goodreads and look for the top reviewers with the best reviews. Compile a list of top-notch reviewers who have book blogs.
- Once a day — or if you’re really pressed for time, once a week — pull out your list of awesome reviewer book bloggers and pick just one. Easy-peasy. Spend 15 minutes or so reading up on their website, learning about them. Make sure you review the rules for submission, read a few of their reviews and note their tastes, make sure to review their rules for submissions and follow them, and then make your submission with a thoughtful, personalized note. It will be appreciated.
- Repeat No. 3 until you run out of bloggers. Then compile a new list and repeat. Doing this once a week will yield you 52 submissions in a year. That’s a lot of outreach. Doing this daily, reaching out to one person a day, will yield you 365 submissions. That’s a lot of seeds to plant. 🙂
Do you actively seek out book reviews as part of your marketing plan? If so, what’s your favorite strategy?
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