On June 8th, I released my debut novel. The world replied with crickets. The next day I sent a message to all of my contacts on Twitter and Facebook asking them to buy my book. That got me about a 10 percent response rate and a brief bump in Amazon’s rankings. But then I ran out of people who thought they might have known me in high school, and it was back to anonymity.
Lured by the siren song and royalties of KDP Select, I chose to be exclusive with Amazon and tried my first free promotion. The results of that were inconclusive, except for another brief bump in the standings and the unexpected finding that Germans really love free books. But then, sales tapered off again. It was time to get serious.
I knew that readers weren’t going to magically flock to my unknown book. I was already deep into my initial research on indie book marketing. I’d read that self-publishing superstar Amanda Hocking had her first success by having her books reviewed by bloggers. So that was the route for me. Book blogger directories like hampton-networks.com and theindieview.com got me started, and I dove down the deep, dark rabbit hole of review sites on the Web.
My initial findings? First, a discouraging number of book review blogs no longer have open submissions. Apparently other indie authors have access to Google, too! The ground floor for self-publishing is now up several flights of stairs.
Second, my book doesn’t fit the profile of what most bloggers I’ve seen are reading. A perusal of the book covers on dozens of review sites showed a plethora of bare chests, storm clouds and serious backlighting. My book is a sci-fi comedy about aliens and cavemen. Maybe the dinosaur on my cover should be shirtless.
And so I slogged on, buoyed by the giddy memory of my first sale to a stranger. I queried bloggers feverishly, keeping a contact log by my computer. I learned that many bloggers had quit doing so (Elaine moved! Josh started a family! Corrie was eaten by bears!) And I even got the sting of my first rejection.
By the end of the first week of my book blog blitz, I had amassed three rejections, two maybe’s and far more non-responses. It seemed that my approach needed some polishing. After trial and error I learned some lessons I’ll now pass on to you:
THE TOP TEN THINGS YOU SHOULDN’T SAY WHEN REQUESTING A BOOK REVIEW
10. If you take 10 hours to read my book, I’ll take 5 seconds to follow you on Facebook.
9. I’m sending you my novel despite your awful taste in books.
8. Can you refer to me as a “renaissance man” at least twice in your review?
7. If it’s easier, I could just read my book on your answering machine.
6. Don’t worry, things start to pick up after the first hundred pages.
5. I’m only one $2.99 sale away from finally posting bail.
4. Please let me know when I can expect to see my 5-star review.
3. Also, I was wondering if you could run it through spellcheck for me.
2. I don’t mean to brag, but I think I’m onto something: vampires.
1. I need to get my stats up after that bad review from my mom.
I’d like to think I’m growing. Newly humbled, I’ve redoubled my efforts to garner a review. I believe in my book, and god knows that people need some laughs these days. So bring on the vast, glistening fields of heroines in repose, impossibly full moons and professional models’ buttocks! I shall fight for every starry review.
Does anyone know Ms. Hocking?
Parker Moose lives in Northwest Indiana with his beautiful wife and two children, who keep him inspired and sleep-deprived. His debut novel is A Dinosaur Ate Your Alien: A Tale of Cavemen in Space. You can find it on Amazon.