Monday, July 14, 2014

The Self-Pub Diaries Part III: Asking For It

Hi all!

So, this week is going to be totally crazy. First of all, my cover reveal is this Friday, and you can still sign up with IFB Tours here if you want to help out. Second of all, I’m doing a blog hop today over on my NA site where I talk about my motivations for writing SHAMELESS and, y’know, how it’s different from 3,845 other NA romances (it is! No, really.)

It’s hard to believe it launches in a little more than a month! I’m so freaking excited you have no idea.
But I’m here to talk about the nitty-gritty behind-the-scenes stuff. Books, especially indie books, don’t just magically get “discovered.” (Well, sometimes they do, but these are the exception, not the rule! You can release your book-baby into the vast ocean of cr*p that is the Internet and cross your fingers, but you’re better off buying a lottery ticket.)

So… let’s talk promo.

The easiest promo tool is reviews. Obviously. The tricky part is getting people to review you.

You have these options:
1. Email the blogs you wish to review you, by yourself.

First, find the blogs! Go to the GR page of a book you like in your genre/category and look at the top reviews. These are probably the people you want to reach out to. Research first! It can be as volatile as querying or submitting something to a publisher. They all have different guidelines, and sometimes they’re freakishly specific. Some mention their tastes outright, but others you have to research more in depth. See what books they rated highly and what books got one star and GIFs of celebrities gagging. If a blogger seems to loathe books with even a hint of cheating and your novel is about an affair, you might want to consider someone else.
Probably not the reaction you want.

I never tire of telling you it’s best to do this as much in advance as you can. (Next time I’ll know. Sigh.) As you might suspect, they’re swamped with submissions. You can always include a (short!) sample of the book and hope it dazzles them!

Still… some might not get back to you at all. Some might request the book and not review it. THAT IS OKAY. Take a deep breath and repeat after me: THAT IS OKAY. Nagging reviewers (or worse yet, being catty over a bad review) is the ultimate in bad form. All it’ll accomplish is get you blacklisted and land your book on one of those author-is-an-asshat lists on GR.
Also not the reaction you want.

2. Sign up for a “matchmaking” service.

It works like this: you pay a well-known blog that offers such a service and they post your book blurb and cover on their blog. Those who wish to review it can sign up—the blogger will send you their contact info and you send them your ARC. Simple! The blogs that do this usually get thousands of hits a day. Which (if you’re like me and your blog gets about three hits from bots in China) is a vast improvement.

3. Reach out to potential readers through a read-to-review giveaway.

It works the same as above, but it’s free. There are several GR groups that do this. They list your book, people sign up, you send them ARCs. You can screen who you send the ARCs to, which is useful to make sure your limited number of copies end up in the right hands.

Sadly, this one has to be done WAY in advance. Right now they’re booking about December. So either think ahead or shell out the cash.

4. Do an old-fashioned GR giveaway! That way, you don’t really control who gets the copies, but it’s a good way to reach out to readers and not just bloggers. Bloggers are invaluable, but it’s the readers who will be buying your book, so it’s a good way to get them on your side.

4.5 Another thing you can do is reach out to authors and ask for a blurb or a review. It’s best if you know the authors personally or have interacted with them extensively before—please don’t fire off a Goodreads PM to Jamie McGuire asking her to blurb you. This is where a platform really helps.

Sometimes, however, you will be turned down. By authors, bloggers, etc. Sometimes you won’t hear back at all. Sometimes, people you know and almost consider friends will just ignore you. That’ll sting. But resist the urge to be bitchy. Some of them are just too busy to read your entire book on short notice, some are swamped with requests, and some are just horrible people who have an ego so huge it barely fits through the door. That’s possible too—hey, you never really know and it’s pointless to simmer over it.

This is where you have to overcome your natural shyness/misanthropy/general disinclination to interact with fellow human beings. I struggle with this more than ever now that it’s time to get SHAMELESS “out there”. It’s too easy to imagine the other person laughing uproariously at your elaborately worded email before hitting delete forever. And, hell, maybe they are. Everyone says a writer has to grow a thick skin—if nothing else, this is a good way to practice.

Write on, and see you in two weeks!
Meanwhile, you can find me on Twitter: here and here, as well as on Goodreads


  1. I did all of these things, plus I put my book on Netgalley. Here are my results with all you ones you listed:

    1) Many of the bloggers never got back to me, but some did, and some of them posted reviews. However, it took so much time to personalize each review request and send them off (just like querying) I only found it worth it for the very big blogs who have lots of followers.
    2) I had a blogger love my book and set up a review tour for free. This got me lots of great reviews and more exposure, so I definitely think review tours are helpful - and even better if they are free.
    3) I tried to use the GR groups to do read for review and they either never got back to me, or were booked until much later in the year. I decided not to do this since I wanted the reviews around the time of my release, not 6 months later.
    4) GR giveaways are great for getting more adds, but I don't know how many reviews they lead to. I don't think the people who won my books reviewed them in the end.
    4.5) I was lucky to get a blurb from author Julie Cross, who also then promoted the book when it came out. I asked 3 other authors, and 2 said they would read but didn't have time before the book came out (though 1 of them helped promote it) and the 3rd ignored my email entirely.

    The most effective and easiest way I got reviews was through Netgalley. The bloggers come to you instead of the other way around (which is great for us shy authors), and it's easy and doesn't take too much time. The problem is that Netgalley is expensive, and it's best if you find an author group to join, so it's definitely not an option for every author. But since my author group is a yearly fee, it's worth it for me since I plan to self pub multiple books over the next year.

    Anyway that's been my experience, hope it helps!

    1. Thank you so much for your input, Elizabeth. We're in the same boat (I'm also an indie debut with a contemporary NA romance) so I'm learning tons from it, too. (I'm pretty much learning by doing here, and documenting my epic fails as I go.)

      I agree with you on all counts! I'm starting to send review requests and it's taking FOREVER. So I'll do exactly what you said, only send to the big blogs.

      NetGalley would be so awesome but it's sadly out of my budget. If things work out okay with my debut, I'll invest in it for sure. I've pretty much given up on the GR groups, so now I'm going with a blogger service for matching me with reviewers and bloggers--similar to NG at a fraction of the cost. I intend to report how it all works out after the release.

      And of course it's awesome when you can get free promo! But being a total newb to the genre and category (and changing pennames) doesn't help. :( I'm hoping things will be easier in that regard with my second release.

  2. Great suggestions...and perfect .gifs! Looking forward to reading more about your journey.