I’m asked this question quite a bit. I released my third book, Broken Pieces, last December, and as of today I have 140 reviews on Amazon.
Did I wave my magical redhead wand? No. Did I pay for reviews? NEVER. So how did I do it?
Betareaders. Okay, and maybe a little bit of magical luck.
1) What’s a betareader? A basic definition of a betareader is ‘a person who reads a written work, with what has been described “a critical eye, with the aim of improving grammar, spelling, characterization, and general style of a story prior to its release to the general public.’ (Wikipedia, 2013)
2) Where do I find betareaders? There are several ways to go on this one.
3) Will a blog tour help? Yes! I’ve done quite a few tours with several different companies and while I like them all, I’ve had great luck with Orangeberry Book Tours. Let’s be clear: you pay an admin fee for the tour, for prizes, for graphics. The money you pay does NOT pay readers, bloggers, or reviewers to write you a favorable review! In fact, I’ve received more than a few 2-3 stars during blog tours and I’m okay with that because it legitimizes the tour process.
4) Newsletters. It’s always a good idea to start marketing a book long before you release it (I suggest at least six months at least). Connect with readers via a newsletter! Give them excerpts or a sneak peak, and ask for volunteer readers. When you DO send out your beta copies, remind them that it’s a a rough copy — typically in the final stages of editing, and ask politely for their review on Amazon and Goodreads once the book goes live.
5) Legality: I’m NOT an attorney, but I do understand that letting go of our baby to betareaders can feel risky for some…what if someone uploads the work without my permission or claims it as their own? I can tell you that’s it’s extremely unlikely, given that the book isn’t formatted yet and your name is on it. One author friend requires betareaders sign a confidentiality agreement, and that may be an option if you’re uncomfortable. Do whatever feels best for you, or consult an attorney.
A final note: my book has been in the top 10 on several Amazon lists since release (Poetry, Women’s Studies, Gender Studies), has received multiple reviews from some top sources (all unpaid by me), and has been nominated or won some awards.
Reviews are but one part of an author’s platform. It’s not only reviews that got me more sales, and then more reviews. It’s a combination of social media relationships I built over time, blogging, advertising, blog tours, newsletters, and a million other little things that mean absolutely nothing if you haven’t written the best book you possibly can — and then pushed yourself to write an even better one.
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Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge: How to energize your book sales in a month - created to help authors market their book. She is also the author of Broken Places (one of IndieReader's "Best of 2015" top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in the San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, IndieReader.com, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly. Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs and two live Twitter chats: #BookMarketingChat (co-hosted with TheRuralVA, Emilie Rabitoy) and #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with C. Streetlights and Judith Staff. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.
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