...seems to be very difficult. I've contacted over twenty of them, and only heard back from two, who were too busy to review. I wonder if more of them will reply later. I've even considered paying one of those services to contact people about the book, but from what I've read, reviewers seem not to like them very much.
Promoting my own book is somewhat new to me. My first book, a memoir titled Born on the Wrong Planet, was published a few years ago by Autism Asperger Publishing Company. They've done a pretty good job of marketing it, but now that my husband John and I have self-published our new science fiction novel, we're on our own, and it's more difficult than I'd thought.
The novel, Kea's Flight, is a strange one that deals with autism issues as well as other controversial subjects like gay rights and abortion. The story is set in the 25th century, when unwanted pregnancies are ended by removing the embryos and cryogenically freezing them to save for later. When there are too many embryos to raise on Earth, the unwanted ones are sent into space, to be raised on starships and colonize other planets.
The heroine is Kea, who was exiled to space as an embryo for having a genetic predisposition to Asperger's Syndrome. She invents secret codes using board games, lectures herself on linguistics to stave off panic, and named herself after a species of parrot. When her starship comes up against a big roadblock in its quest for a habitable planet, she has to cooperate with other misfits and rebels to save the ship from its own corrupt crew.
It started out well. I made a website about the book, and made it available in several different formats. We have a wide audience of people for whom we've given speeches, and I post a weekdaily webcomic called "Abby and Norma" that has a bit of a following, so I made an announcement to those audiences and got a lot of attention and several purchases on the first day. When I posted on the Asperger Livejournal community, I even got a note from an editor for Analog magazine, asking for a review copy. (I sent it to him right away. If he decides to review it in Analog, it will happen much later this year, but I'm still holding out some hope for that.) Still, other reviewers I've contacted since then don't seem as interested.
What I'm wondering is... how long does it typically take for word to spread about a book? I'm guessing that some people will finish reading their copies in the next month or so, and if they like it, they might leave a review on Amazon and/or tell friends about it. I'm hoping, anyway.
A potential blogger reviewer must be interested in reading the book you are providing. Therefore, you must potential reviewers who are reading and reviewing books like yours. You have done this, correct?
My first novel, "Back to the Homeplace" is a family saga; my second, "The Home Place Revisited" is the same family nine years later (1987-1996). I am wasting my time if I don't get it in the hands of potential reviewers who read this type of book and offer reviews of this type of review.
When looking for reviewers for my first novel, I felt I needed any review I could get. I didn't get any 'bad ones' but some were less than enthusiastic because the story was outside of their 'comfort zone.' I hope to do better on the second pass. I will spend more time seeking the 'right' reviewers and not just 'any' reviewers.
I guess I'm rambling, on my own thoughts, but maybe it helps to know others are fighting the same battles. I could offer to review your book - but I would have trouble getting through it, now matter how good a book it is. Last time around, I did that, a number of time, just to get "involved" in reviewing, so someone else would review my book. Bad idea.
Hopefully, I've learned. Best wishes to you. I'll be interested to see what other replies you may get.
William Leverne Smith
Thanks for replying. I've tried to focus on reviewers who are interested in our type of writing, though it's hard to be absolutely sure, since the novel we've written is so unusual. It's science fiction, but it might also appeal to autism advocates and various political groups. Maybe it contains too broad a range of subjects to find a reviewer easily.
I think I've gotten good replies so far, though. I'm looking forward to what else this thread will offer.
Great question and great response Dr. Bill.
I have been fortunate in my books so far, but non-fiction is infinitely easier to get early traction on. Congratulations on what you have accomplished and the successes you have gained Erika. Okay, so down to business. You might try posting in Dan Poynter's newsletter. I have had mixed results but his monthly pdf goes out to 35,000 authors and book aficionados whom I am assuming are involved in the book industry. But he specifically asks reviewers to post 4 or 5 star reviews--or to say nothing at all if they don't honestly think the book rates a positive review. It is a way to have authors help other authors with integrity. The way it works is that you send an email to Dan with your review request paragraph typed and ready to go. It is free and people will email you directly if they want to read and review your book.
Other than that, quality author groups and book bloggers seem to be pretty hard to find for the most part. They don't really advertise, so they do get lost in the massive numbers of books and ebooks that are coming out every day. I am working with a husband and wife writing team that has sold over 2 million copies of their works back in the 1980's but now are releasing a new novel on their own and the transition from pampered author to self-published author is a difficult one. There are a thousand little details and the most important (other than formatting and editing) is the endless marketing and promotional work. I wish I could tell you what works the best to get reviewers attention, but most of what I see people doing is getting local reviews from people in their area or in the groups they can find until they can build up some momentum with Facebook and possibly a friendly blogger. Please don't give up. I hope any of this helps at all.
Thank you for the encouragement! I'll look into Dan Poynter's newsletter.
I'm guessing the email address for my review request is DanPoynter@ParaPublishing.com ? Also, you said "review request paragraph"... should it be condensed to one paragraph? What information is most important to include? (I'm not having an easy time finding this information on his website.)
I'll also look into local reviews. I'm hoping that some of the people we speak for will be interested in spreading the word. We have a speech coming up in April, and we have some copies of the book to offer for sale there, so that should generate some interest.
I understand the trouble you're having. I write contemporary horror fiction and because it's a pretty rare genre, a lot of people are instantly turned off. Finding someone to review my book, Learning To Fly, is tricky.
I hope you find someone willing to give your work a fair shake! =)
Thank you! I agree that it takes a while. Every time I've read about someone making it big in self-publishing, it says that sales were just a trickle at first. It can turn around when you make one or two big connections... a few popular bloggers mentioning it, or something like that. For now, I'm just continuing to promote as best I can, and hoping that the people who bought copies will like it enough to spread the word and leave reviews when they're done reading it.
I think it helps a bit that I have a professionally published book already. I've been giving speeches for a long time, which creates a venue for spreading the word about the new book. The speech on Apr 4th went well, and I made a connection with someone who may buy some copies to sell at the Minnesota Autism Conference. So that's something.
Lots of good advice and thoughts above. Just wanted to add that you said you hit up about 20 book review blogs and got 2 responses. Not sure over what amount of time but that ration sounds about right. I've probably sent out about 200 and gotten about 20 yeses for reviews. I do my best to add these blogs to my twitter and FB pages and post comments on their blogs so I'm not just hitting and running. I try to stay patient and see the big picture. These folks are hit up so often and so much of the time it's template-like pitches. Try to personalize them as much as possible.. Just my two cents. Good luck!
It might be a good idea to contact someone who organises book tours. Essentially, a book tour organiser has a list of possible book tour hosts, who all own websites and review books on their websites. You can then book a tour for a week, two weeks or even a month, and the organiser will contact all hosts to see who's interested in your book. That way your novel will be mentioned several times on a wide range of book blogs during the course of a week, two weeks or even a month. It's an even better way to gain publicity than just appearing on one single blog for one review, and you don't have to do all the contacting yourself.
Virtual book tours are usually quite cheap. For instance, Enchanted Book Tours asks $29 for a one-week tour and $69 for a one-month tour. There are usually about four book stops a week, including guest posts, interviews, whatever you prefer. That means that in a month's time your book will be shown on approximately 12-16 different websites. And you don't have to pay any fees to get the book to the reviewers, all you have to do is send a .pdf file to the tour organiser, who will then send it to the appropriate reviewers.
And yes, I'm sort-of advertising for myself here, since I'm the owner of aforementioned website. But you don't necessarily have to book a tour with my website, any book tour would gain publicity for your book, and it would be a lot easier than contacting book reviewers yourself, and waiting for a response.
So here's my two cents: if you want to get the word out there, the best way I could think about is a book tour. If you book one for a month, that's about 16 people twittering about your book, posting about it on their website, and promoting it on various websites, like Book Blogs ning for example.