I joined three friends to give a writers’ workshop on marketing and promoting your book yesterday. It was a beautiful Saturday. We had a small audience, but that’s never bothered me. I know and respect some of the writers who came to hear us. I love and respect my fellow writers on the panel. A win/win for me. And then we went to the Outback to eat when the panel was over, and what can I say? I can be had for a bloomin’ burger. And the company? There’s nothing more fun than talking to fellow writers.
All four of us have been writing for a while now. Kyra Jacobs, the newest and shiniest writer in the group, is probably more savvy than I am at marketing. I try, but I’m no whiz kid. The thing that struck me is that we’re all good writers–all in our own way–and it’s just plain hard to get your name out there and find success. The other thing that struck me is how willing writers are to help each other. If we learn something that works, we’re happy to share. We WANT to see other writers succeed.
We shared sites that had worked for us when we advertised. Of course, the best site is BookBub. It’s expensive, and it’s HARD to get them to accept your book, but if they take you, it’s worth it. At most sites, you have to have a set number of reviews to be considered. Not always true of BookBub. They factor in lots of things. And often, you have to have an average 4.0 ranking. That led me to thinking about reviews.
Every author needs reviews. If you reach 50 reviews on Amazon, you get more visibility. Amazon might even spotlight your book. The only time I got 50 reviews was when I was active on Goodreads and BookBub accepted my urban fantasy novel, FALLEN ANGELS. I ended up with 67 reviews, most of them good. I really enjoyed Goodreads, but for whatever reason, the group I was in sort of trickled apart and I still haven’t plugged into a new one. My fault, but I’m writing more, and it’s hard to find the time. The thing is, good reviews make a difference. They open doors for authors. We have more options. I like advertising at The Fussy Librarian, but you have to have 10 reviews and a 4.0 average ranking for them to accept you. Since I started over with a new pseudonym, I have trouble getting 10 reviews.
There’s another reason having more reviews helps an author. It’s sad, but true, that your book just isn’t going to click with every reader. That’s all right. You can’t please them all. But some readers are more than happy to write the worst reviews they can to let you know how much they didn’t like your book. It hurts. I know people who just don’t read their bad reviews, and maybe they’re smarter than I am. I still read mine. I’m curious what worked and what didn’t for readers, but a really bad review feels like an open wound that takes a while to recover from. On top of that, those reviewers give your book a low rating. If you only have six reviews to start with, your average rating is shot. When you get a new review that’s positive, you feel like someone gave you a dose of sunshine. It affirms that you might be doing something right.
The other thing that I noticed on our panel yesterday was that every writer on it is hopeful. We all think that the time is coming when we’ll “make it,” whatever that means to each of us individually. For Kyra Jacobs and I, we both want to see our print books on bookstore shelves. For M. L. Rigdon–she loves self-publishing and making all of her own choices–so she just wants to make more money. And for Les Edgerton–well, he’s already pretty darned successful and writes pretty much what he wants to–he’d just like to sell more, too.
And so, I wish each and every one of us success. And I wish you success, too, whatever that means to you. Happy writing!
BTW, my 5th romance, FIRST KISS, ON THE HOUSE, comes out June 27th. It’s available for pre-order now. I think it’s pretty darned fun! http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/book.aspx/35025
And, if you’re interested, I started a new Babet and Prosper story on my webpage: