Shh. This knowledge is for Novel Matters readers only: Goodness and Mercy is now a "real" Kindle book and ready for purchase. I couldn't be prouder or more relieved. After all, I survived self-publishing, so far.
Now, on to marketing. I couldn't be more intimidated.
Word on the web and in the myriad of marketing books I've read on the subject is that two things sell ebooks. The first are reviews by bloggers, especially bloggers who specialize in ebooks.
People who prefer indie books flock to these blog sites for what's latest in ebooks. But these specialized bloggers won't post about your book unless you have the second key ingredient in your marketing plan already in place: reviews on Amazon.
As for reviews, I have none. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Ugh.
But only you know the book is up and ready for sale, so I'm not too worried...yet.
My plan was to give away 50 ebooks to Novel Matters readers and ask you to write a review for Amazon--only if you liked the book (more on that later). But if I give away books to potential reviewers, the reviews won't have that "Verified Amazon Purchase" label that adds credibility to the review.
So I posted the book for the next best thing to free. It's .99 through Sunday.
Since some of you are considering self-publishing, let me share why these reviews are so important and why I thought of you, the Novel Matters readers as the best people to ask to write them.
Let's imagine we're together (Wouldn't that be a treat?) at the checkout counter at our favorite coffee shop, The Novel Matters, where there are free wi-fi and ergonomic chairs for all novelists.
There's a tip jar at eye level with a few dollars and some shiny coins in the bottom. We think, People who buy coffee here are tippers. We should drop something in the jar.
Fact is, savvy waitstaff will seed the tip jar with a few dollars and some shiny coins because they understand the power of social proof.
Social proof is how humans give behavioral cues. A healthy number of reviews on Amazon is social proof that a book is worth reading and worth writing a helpful review for.
But only if you like the story.
Of all the people I could ask, here's why I chose you: First, the goal is to provide honest reviews of Goodness & Mercy, warts and all. Over the years, I've learned you are honest about books because you care so much about the craft and art of storytelling. Second, I want insightful comments about the story and characters. You people are brilliant! And I'm not just saying that to butter you up.
To help you along, here are elements of a great book review:
- Brief synopsis with no spoilers
- The basic theme or themes of the story
- A judgment on writing style
- How did the book make you feel?
- What you loved or hated and why
- Whether you would recommend the book to others
Obviously, I'm hoping to average 4.5 stars as I have with my other novels. That means you won't all give me 5 stars, and I hope you don't. No book is perfect, even the ones we love. I just finished Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. I've recommended the book with no reservations, even though I thought the middle dragged a bit. Did some skimming. But I LOVED the story. 4 stars!
Is this ethical?
All businesses understand and use social proof, whether they do so consciously or not. We own a garden center. Every year, the local newspaper publishes a survey on which are the best restaurants, hardware stores, beauty parlors, and garden centers (among many other categories) in town. Readers vote and the winners are announced in a flashy insert in the newspaper. We've won the Best of the West Peoples Choice award for garden centers year after year.
Until two years ago. Home Depot won! Two years in a row! Boo! Hiss!
So we started asking our customers to consider voting for us as best garden center. (You can bet Home Depot encouraged their employees to vote.) I'm happy to report that Goliath fell this year. Our customers were more than happy to vote for us because we know them by name, we help them grow great gardens, we carry superior products, and we know how to use them.
So, if you think I've written a story worth recommending, would you consider writing a review on Amazon? If you think it's a stinker, kindly keep that to yourself. If you're too busy to write a thoughtful review, I would happily receive a Yipee!
Also, I promise to be very, very quiet about Goodness & Mercy from now on. Thanks for listening and thank you for considering helping me this way.
Remember, Sharon Souza and Latayne Scott also have new releases on Amazon and would love a positive review. And if you've enjoyed a book by anyone, the best thing you can do to vote for that books--besides buying the book--is writing a review. A review is a kiss on the lips for authors.
Kiss an author today!
Besides offering the book for free on it's release date (6/12) and occasionally thereafter, my plan is to pray that the book will end up in the hands God wants. Period. I'm too eager to get back to writing to overdo this marketing thing. BTW, the paperback will release on the same day...or whenever I get my act together. Find Goodness & Mercy here.
Is giving you a lower price and asking you to write a review (4 or 5 stars only) ethical? Is there a better way to garner reviews? What have you done that worked? Didn't work? What marketing have you seen that piqued your interest in a book enough to buy it? How important are reviews to you in the book buying process?