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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My most successful book marketing tip to date

I've been learning book marketing as I go -- navigating social media such as FaceBook, Twitter, Writer's Blogs; reading "How To" books on self-publishing; experimenting with my own website (which I am in the process of upgrading); approaching print and radio media outlets; publishing digital editions of my book all over the place; and employing many other less traditional marketing approaches.

The foregoing efforts have led me to a single, rather ominous, conclusion. Nobody really knows the best way to market your book in this time of publishing upheaval -- and by upheaval, I mean "opportunity."

I know it's early in the publishing process for me. My first book was published March 8, 2010 with no pre-publication marketing. I now know that was a mistake. But it just means I need to do that marketing NOW. So I've allocated my first year post-publication to intensive marketing efforts. Of course, I continue to write, and work my day job, as well.

To date, without a doubt my most successful marketing strategy has been identifying Amazon Top Reviewers and emailing them, asking if they'd consider reviewing my book.

Kirkus Reviews isn't interested in self-published books -- whether before or after publication. And "Kirkus Discoveries" costs hundreds of dollars to get one short review -- a review that everyone in the writing community knows you had to pay for, so its independence is in question.

This is how I approached the Amazon Top Reviewers:

-- First I found out who these Top Reviewers were. That information is available by Googling "Amazon Top Reviewers" or by clicking here:

-- Then I started at the top of the list. Why not go for the very best, I say!

-- I read each reviewer's profile to determine if they were the right person to review my book. I didn't want to approach someone whose specialty is reviewing household appliances, for instance.

-- If the reviewer seemed right for my book and its subject matter, and if the reviewer had contact information posted in their profile, I figured I had a good prospect.

-- I then sent each selected reviewer a personalized email telling them that I was contacting them because of their reputation as a Top Reviewer on Amazon, particularly in the area of [mystery books -- insert your book's genre], that I had recently published [book name] and I was wondering if I might send them a complimentary signed copy for their review.

-- In each email, I added a link to my Amazon listing, so they could see the description posted there, and a link to my website.

-- I had also prepared a Media Kit, and attached that as a PDF to the email. If you don't know what a Media Kit is, I found this page very helpful: I received several compliments on how "professional" my Media Kit looked. So I recommend spending the time to put a nice one together.

I sent out about twenty of these emails to Amazon Top Reviewers. That was about April 5th.

Almost immediately, I received seven requests for my book. Of those seven, three have posted reviews on Amazon so far. It's not uncommon for a reviewer to take months to get around to reading your book. So be patient. But my first one came back in less than a week. AND IT WAS FIVE STARS.

That didn't make books start jumping off Amazon's shelves. But now I had a bona fide quote I could place on FaceBook, Twitter, and my website, and that I could add to my Media Kit AND MY BOOK JACKET. Those early INDEPENDENT reviews gave my book a source of respect in the reading community. And that is something that money can't buy.

I continue to edit and update my Media Kit and POD book front matter as new reviews come in. I also continue to offer the book to various bloggers and media outlets for review. But the Amazon Top Reviewers got me started.

Of course, some of my other marketing strategies are working pretty well, too. But now you know my favorite -- and most successful -- one so far.

I'll post more of my strategies later in this blog as I am able to assess their success. This blog is all about self-publishing. I don't blather. If I post it, it's because I think someone may be able to benefit from the info.

Thanks to my new guests for following.


  1. This is a great idea, John, and definitely one I haven't heard elsewhere. I think a lot of authors can appreciate it because it feels a lot more tangible than other marketing efforts -- you can see the payoff, even if it takes a few months for a review to be put up. After it's up, it'll be there for as long as your book is there and there's no better publicity than a great review. Thanks for the idea!

  2. You're very welcome Duolit. I always enjoy reading you gals on Twitter. Have a great day!

  3. Your blog looks like a great resource for writers. I'm over here following you from the Chasing Dreams blog.

  4. I came over from Chasing Dreams also. Glad I found you. Your information in this post alone is most useful. I'm going too put your blog link on my blog under Resources. This is all especially useful for me as my second edits are about to arrive in the mail from my publisher. I've been trying for the past three and a half months--since setting up my blog--to learn about networking so I'll be prepared to do all I can to promote my novel when it's published. Many thanks to you and to Tamara at Chasing Dreams!