“At the beginning of the digital revolution it was common to say digital was killing music. Now it could be said digital is saving music.”– Edgar Berger, Sony Music
Just returned from teaching at the Florida Christian Writers Conference. Here are a few observations.
Teen writing tracks remain a growing segment of the conference agenda. Met several teens with great ideas, a firm grasp of the craft and a willingness to commit to improving. Watch for more teens to attend conferences and jump into book publishing BEFORE they graduate from high school.
The real buzz remains: what is the future of print books? Large houses continue to acquire new manuscripts from first-time authors but many of the conferees at FCWC came with questions regarding eBook publishing, how to market their eBooks online and the big one: “Can I make money self-publishing my book via Kindle?” Yes you can make money with Amazon but you will need lots of Amazon reviews. Here is a portion of the class I taught on Amazon reviews.
Increasingly, readers turn to online reviews written by peers to learn if a book is worth purchasing. Many “professional” reviews are simply rehashes of publisher-generated publicity. Most of the time, professional critics don’t tell readers the one thing they want to know—whether they’ll like the book.
Today, all it takes is a quick skim of customer reviews on Amazon to know if you’ll like a book, and what amateur reviewers lack in highbrow sensibilities, they make up in credibility and relevancy.
What percentage of buyers at brick-and-mortar bookstores made their choice by reading Amazon customer reviews? There’s no way to know, but chances are it’s a substantial and growing number, so seed your book’s success by garnering reviews on Amazon.
Reviews For YOU!
If buyers are making their decisions based on Amazon reviews you can bet bookstore buyers are, too. Amazon is ground zero for your online campaign. It provides free worldwide exposure. Simply having your book properly listed for sale on Amazon can create demand for it everywhere.
How can these reviews help you? Credibility. Amazon doesn’t say it explicitly, but the more reviews your book receives, the higher it will appear in the “relevant” search rankings. This is why you need to begin working to gain reviews for your book before its release. How? With book giveaways on Goodreads, blog tours, promotions and sending galley copies to friends. In return ask those individuals who say nice things about your book to post a review when your book releases. (Depending on the publisher’s arraignment with Amazon, sometimes they can post reviews before its release.)
When it comes to book sales, you have to be popular to become popular. (How’s that for circular logic?) Amazon reviews are a quick indicator of your book’s success. A low number of reviews or a low star rating and the reader may exit your page before scrolling down an inch.
Step One: Fire Up Your Tribe
Encourage anyone who tells you how much he or she enjoyed your book to write a review on Amazon.com. As your positive reviews grow, so may your sales.
It is YOUR job to drive reviewers (friends, family, fans, Tweeters, bloggers, etc) to your Amazon page and fill these reviews. Your book will need 10 to be taken seriously – 100 to be considered a serious book. The bar is high because customers are reluctant to post reviews. Readers know this so when they see a book with 50 reviews they know merits consideration.
Step Two: Combat Negative Reviews
Even a poor review can be good—if the reviewer shares pertinent facts about your book that other readers might find interesting. For example, a comment like: “Too preachy” might turn off some readers and attract inspirational readers. Multiple 1 star reviews can slow sales or kill your book’s momentum, so balance low star reviews by asking friends to post a review after negative reviews appear. Here’s how.
When friends congratulate you on your book ask for their help. Send them an email or contact via Facebook and say:
Thank you for the kind words about my book. If you have a spare moment, it would be a great help if you could post a review on Amazon and let other potential readers know why you liked it. It’s not necessary to write a lengthy, formal review—a summary of the comments you sent me would be fine. Here’s a link to the review form for my book:
(Note: you will need to put your book’s actual ISBN in place of the letters ISBN, like this:
http://www.Amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/write-a-review.html?asin=1938499018 This link should take you to the review page for My Father’s Business: 30 Inspirational Stories for Discerning and Doing Gods Will)
Save this canned text to be used anytime you see a negative review appear about your book. Then seek out those fans that praised your book but did not post a review. Maybe add that their comments are needed and appreciated.
The reality is a review on Amazon is gold. The next time your author friend has a birthday don’t send an eGreating Card – post a positive review of their book on Amazon. This will mean more to their career than you can imagine.
If you want the class notes from my workshop, Amazing Results With Amazon send me an emai: Eddie Jones . If you want my workshop notes on how to set up your Kindle and CreateSpace accounts, ask for that, too.