Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Encouraging Reviews for Indie Books

Sharon started a discussion on marketing independently (indie) published books on Monday. She offered tons of great advice here.

It could be reasonably--and easily--argued that I didn't learn a ding-danged thing about marketing ebooks when I released Goodness & Mercy last summer.

And then my husband begrudgingly accepted a Kindle last Christmas.

He never puts it down! He's become a voracious reader--again--and discovered authors otherwise unknown to him. In that way, independent publishing is a fabulous opportunity to write for an audience. (Notice I didn't say make a lot of  money.)

Rather frequently, the indie authors include a letter to their readers at the end of the books he reads. The letters are meant to be a thank you to the audience, but it's also a way to encourage readers to get the word out about the story they've just read.

More than most writers, indies depend on word-of-mouth marketing. The challenge is to get them talking. I believe the letter works. I saw an uptick in reviews for my books after I added a unique letter to the end of each book.

I'm about to re-release an out of print book, The Queen of Sleepy Eye. Here's the letter I wrote for my readers:

Dear Readers,
Thanks so much for reading The Queen of Sleepy Eye. There are tons of stories to choose from, and I appreciate the chance you gave me to entertain you.  
For centuries there have been gatekeepers of art. Rich patrons chose which artists and authors deserved their support. The only writers who escaped this tyranny were already rich or those who could subside on pine nuts and berries. And then came the publishing houses, who will freely admit that many good writers don’t gain entrance because of factors totally unrelated to talent.
Let’s start a revolution, a very chatty revolution. If you enjoyed The Queen of Sleepy Eye, go here to write a review on Amazon. This is how we’ll democratize art together.
Your endorsement means more than any other factor in the promotion of stories. You’re very powerful that way. Since I don’t have a patron, nor am I rich, and nuts and berries are best on ice cream, I invite you to help me keep writing stories by saying a few kind words about The Queen of Sleepy Eye. I promise to keep writing as long as I can buy ice cream with pine nuts and berries. 
By the way, there can never be too many voices saying a story is worthwhile. No matter the number of reviews already posted for The Queen of Sleepy Eye, I appreciate your time and effort in adding your voice. 
Many, many heartfelt thanks for your support. God bless you! 
Affectionately,Patti Hill

Some review online services will only consider books that have a healthy number of reviews already posted on Amazon and other online outlets, so garnering reviews is very important. You can check out BookBub, BookGorilla, and The Fussy Librarian to target the audience of your marketing.

Have you come across a letter to the reader at the end of an ebook? Would you follow the link after a plea for a review? What motivates you to write a review for a story? Do you use personal review services for your reading choices? Which is your favorite?


Heather Day Gilbert said...

Patti, congrats on your upcoming re-release! I think most indies I know do try to include a link to a review site at the end of their book and usually a note. I do ask if readers enjoyed to please leave a review and to sign up for my newsletter for updates on future releases.

I actually love indie marketing because we can target our reader demographic, while still casting a wide net with freebies, etc (if we're ready for some lower reviews from NON-demographic readers). It's been a rewarding experience for me and I'm sure it will for you, as well.

Patti Hill said...

Heather, thanks so much for dropping by. You're the first author I've heard who loves indie marketing. You sound like someone I need to meet. I hope our paths cross soon.

Thanks to your encouraging words, too.

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Thanks Patti! Would love that! I don't get out much to conferences...just stay holed up writing and marketing on my computer...grin. But would enjoy meeting you.

Megan Sayer said...

I struggle so much with writing reviews. It's not that I'm not opinionated - I am - but now that I'm working toward publication, and know so many published authors, I'm so painfully aware that I'm reviewing someone's baby, that their blood, sweat and tears have gone into it. Some books I love with a passion, but even those I don't like giving away so much of myself in reviews (because the passion I have for many books is related to what Katy posted about the other week - what we bring to the book, that marriage between me and it). And then there are star ratings, and how I rate things in stars is different to how a lot of people do it. And not only that, reviewing books is like reviewing clothes - what looks amazing on someone else doesn't necessarily look amazing on me, and vice versa. That comes back to that marriage thing, I and it.
So, I just don't. I don't have time for the complexities or the guilt. Or the fear of inadvertent self-revelation. I think I've reviewed about four books in my life...maybe I need to change that. I'll get to day.

Susie Finkbeiner said...

You're re-releasing Queen???? I loved that book. LOVED it.

As for reviews, I'm doing less of them now, really. If it's a book I truly enjoyed for some reason or another, I have no problem reviewing and am very happy to. If I didn't enjoy it, I feel badly giving a bad review for many of the same reasons as Megan shared.

But, I did truly LOVE Queen of Sleepy Eye. I'll make all my friends buy it. :)

Cherry Odelberg said...

Dear Patti. Nothing makes me subside. I usually get pretty worked up over nothin'. However, I have been known to subsist on pine nuts and berries.

I love that you are able to have a conversation with readers.

Sara said...

Late to the game here, but I'm going to jump in with a different point of view--I don't much like letters from the author at the end of a book because it breaks the mood. Just when I want to walk away with the characters, imagining how their world might go on, the author breaks in, "Hello! It's all pretend!"

Of course, I don't like curtain calls at plays for the same reason, so maybe I'm just over-sensitve. :)