Welcome Back Blog Readers,
In this blog post, I wanted to share my experience thus far as an Indie Author that has been self-promoting my book to gain reviews. I will share what methods have worked for me and which have failed. To be fair, some methods take longer so you can’t expect instant results from an ad or promotion that you run.
I am not a self-proclaimed “Marketing Guru” nor do I have a team of marketing geniuses helping me, I’m simply me doing this on my own and sharing my experiences along the way.
Social media is a great place to start as there are so many platforms for you to create a following, find readers that have an interest in the genre that you are writing, networking to find proofreaders, editors, beta readers, reviewers and businesses to help promote your work.
I have stuck with Facebook and Twitter, but you can also branch out on Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, and countless others that you may have heard of that I’m simply not familiar with as I’m not super tech savvy.
Facebook: I suggest creating an Author page in which to start creating hype/buzz, share sneak peeks of your work to get people excited about what you’re going to be launching in the future. Facebook also allows you to run ads and boost posts. I have done both, and both come with a small fee (under $20) although you can certainly spend more if you have the budget to do so.
Navigating through the Facebook ad/campaign section is pretty user-friendly. I have found this to be an effective way to gain followers/friends/readers and have made a few great contacts in the process. There are so many groups that you can choose to join that are dedicated to Indie Authors, Authors that write the same genre, Groups that allow you to promote your work on their page, so there is that to consider.
Here is my Author Page:
Twitter: This social media platform is also an excellent tool for an Indie Author. There are so many groups that you can align yourself with to help promote your book to thousands of potential readers. Since my book “Breaking the Cycle of Abuse: My Journey from Victim to Survivor,” is a non-fiction/memoir about childhood sexual abuse I have been able to search for groups that support #metoo, #metoomovement, #CSA, #survivorculture. I have found that many people in these groups are my target readers and are more likely to support my work.
Many of these members have hundreds and thousands of followers that they will Retweet for their followers to see. That is just the FREE aspect, Twitter also allows you to create ads based on existing tweets that you’ve posted, so keep that in mind if you are considering using a post as an ad. The fee for running a Twitter ad is still budget friendly but is slightly more than Facebook. I have found that running ads on Twitter definitely helps to reach potential readers from all over the world.
Twitter has been an excellent resource for finding small businesses that help Indie Authors promote their book(s) for a reasonable price. As with most things, you’ll want to do a bit of research before conducting business and sending out several digital copies of your book to a scammer.
Here is a short list of twitter businesses that I have worked with.
- DigitalBookGirl- very reasonably priced, professional, efficient, delivered as promised. She’s also on Facebook under the same name.
- Books & the Bear- They offer a wide variety of services for Indie Authors, their packages are reasonably priced, They delivered as promised.
- TweetYourBooks- reasonably priced, various promotional packages to choose from based on your needs/budget, they delivered as promised, they also have affiliate accounts each has tens of thousands of followers that will see your book/campaign.
There are countless other promotional services to consider, do so at your own risk. I thought it was a good idea (at the time) to find volunteers to read my book and leave a review on Goodreads, Amazon and their blog if they had one. I didn’t want to hand out loads of free digital copies of my book, so I limited the number to 10. I posted my “Looking for 10 volunteers” search on Facebook and Twitter to increase my odds of finding possible readers/reviewers. Facebook didn’t turn up any interest, while I found 9 eager volunteers within 24 hours on Twitter.
I was pretty excited about getting 9 reviews to show up on Goodreads and Amazon, because what’s not to like about that. A few people wanted to do a book review exchange, they review for me, I review for them to which seemed fair to me and I agreed.
In full disclosure, I am not an avid reader, in fact, I’ll always take the movie version before the book version any day. I have tried reading books that I thought would interest me, but I have a hard time getting through a few chapters before I completely lose interest or I find that my mind wanders and I’m constantly reading the same sections a few times before things register especially if there is a lot of dialogue. It’s not that I can’t comprehend, it’s just that I’m a better visual learner, than a verbal/reading learner. I was reading/comprehending at a Freshman in college level at age 12/grade 7.
Anyway, I took on the task of reading 2 books as part of the review exchange agreement that I made with 2 other indie authors in early November. I read those books and left my review on Goodreads and dedicated a section of my blog for “Reviews” left by me and reviews of my book left by others.
The new year arrived, and I had not heard from any of the volunteers, so I thought I would send them all a private message to touch base and see how everyone was progressing. Granted I did mention that there wasn’t a rush for their review (my fault for not being more specific). One reviewer said she was just getting over having the flu and that once she felt better, she would start reading my book. No problem there, I completely understood. Another reviewer thanked me for the reminder and thought it was a good idea to help keep them on track after the holiday season, and that she would start on it soon. No problem there either.
I never did hear back from the other 7, it’s now the end of January, and I noticed the reviewer with the flu has recently unfollowed me, no message, no nothing. The other reviewer got in touch with me the other night and read the book fairly quickly and was able to leave a rating on Goodreads, so progress was made. If you are that reviewer, I Thank You! As for the other 7, I am not holding my breath or expecting anything to come from them. It’s been frustrating to expect results when some people can’t follow through. I know that life happens and we have to prioritize, just keep me in the loop and have a bit of common courtesy. It’s okay to be honest if you’ve changed your mind, or if you don’t want to leave a bad review because you didn’t like the book, then just say so and delete the copy of my book, no hard feelings. I’d rather have that conversation with the opportunity to answer questions/concerns than to be avoided and feel taken advantage of. Lesson learned.
One thing to keep in mind if you are seeking reviews and sending out FREE digital copies: The person leaving the review must mention that they received a copy of your book for the purposes of leaving a review, or something along those lines. That way your account on Goodreads and Amazon isn’t flagged for possibly buying your reviews or perhaps having some of your reviews removed. Amazon is a bit tricky, as they are able to track the IP address from where you uploaded your book, where you bought a copy and where the review is coming from. So the chance of your spouse leaving an honest review is very slim.
For examples of how to write a review for a book that you received a free copy of, check out this link.
Heidi Lynn is fantastic if you have the opportunity to work with her. She doesn’t read everything, but she has an extensive range of genres that she enjoys. I encourage you to check out her website and contact her if you happen to write a genre she reads. Heidi Lynn has been able to put me in contact with a few other authors that I have a common interest with, and I have found that reading non-fiction/memoir stories are the one genre I can get into. Thank You, Heidi Lynn!
If you are a new author with no following and you are just creating your social media accounts, self-promoting is a task that you have a chip away at every week to create a buzz and find readers to engage. That is the road I started on almost one year ago. I’ve been slowly gaining Likes, Shares, Retweets, Friends, and followers of my blog since June 2018. My book has three 5-star reviews on Amazon, and I’ve sold 5 paperbacks, 2 Kindle e-books, 2 Kindle Unlimited copies and gave away 37 FREE digital copies during my Kindle free promotion back in August (no royalties or reviews from that campaign). In total for last year (end of June to December 2018) I made a whopping $26.76 in royalties. No, I’m not bragging, I’m showing you that this is what it’s like as an Indie Author that started from nothing, no contacts in the industry, working part-time, no team of people or a publishing company to help promote your work. This is the reality and what most of us are going through.
Non-fiction/memoir books don’t tend to gain too much momentum unless that particular story has made headlines or a celebrity is involved in some way to help launch it into the mainstream. So I don’t expect much more than a few trickling sales here/there from my book. The real money making genre is Romance because sex still sells. If you have a series in that genre, even better. You can offer the first book in that series for FREE, and those readers who like it will buy the next book in that series. To find out which types of books are trending, check out Bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/ebook-deals/latest
So, this concludes this segment, and hopefully, you’ve gained a little insight as to what it’s like as an Indie Author. I’m happy to answer any questions, take your comments and suggestions into consideration.
Until next time, ~Hannah
2 thoughts on “Indie Author: Self-Promoting and Getting Reviews”
I gave away 37 FREE copies in August plus another 9 through finding volunteers on Twitter. From that I gained one 5-star rating and one 1-star rating (August freebie) on Goodreads. What I have to consider is that many people don’t leave reviews for things they like, but rather leave reviews for items that really disappointed them. Most people won’t take the time to leave a good review unless they are paid for their opinion. If a product is faulty, not as advertised, damaged then people are more likely to share their comments as a means of warning other, not to waste their time/money. While obtaining a specific amount of reviews is what I was hoping to achieve in order to take advantage of certain promotional deals, I will hold off and find other means. At this point I’d rather quality over quantity, meaning readers that feel compelled to leave a review over readers that feel obligated to leave a review. I do appreciate your input/feedback, as your suggestion may be helpful for other authors, perhaps they will have better results. I also feel very protective of my written work, as it is very personal. The idea of sending out so many free copies with no guarantee of reciprocity (even a simple rating) leaves me feeling uneasy. But that is on me. With a few reports of indie authors getting scammed lately, I might stick to the paid services at least I have a paper trail.
It’s a pretty common experience for less than half of the readers who request a book to actually leave a review. If I want ten reviews, I try to send out the book to thirty to forty people.