A proven technique to garner Amazon book reviews

Saguaro cactus, @2010 ANVidean

Are your readers a bit “prickly” about writing a review for your book? Choosy Bookworm might be a solution for you.

My author clients often express frustration about how hard it is to obtain book reviews from readers. They ask, they cajole, they beg. I guess a lot of readers are either intimidated by the process, don’t know what to say, or just can’t find the time.

Luckily, one of our savvy ALWAYS tribe members—author Karen Mueller Bryson of Short On Time Books—recently shared an inexpensive answer to this problem. She pointed us to a site called Choosy Bookworm, where readers sign up for free ebooks in exchange for an Amazon review. Here’s the process:

  1. Choosy Bookworm advertises your published or pre-release eBook to their readers via their Web site and enewsletter.
  2. Interested readers  sign up to receive your free eBook.
  3. You send the eBook as a MOBI or PDF; or you gift per Amazon.
  4. Readers will read your book and post a review on Amazon or GoodReads.

You can find all the details at Choosy Bookworm promotion, but here are some highlights:

  • Your book must be priced at $3.99 or lower.
  • You pay anywhere from nothing to $70, depending on the level of visibility you want.
  • Submit your ebook on a Saturday, at least one week before you want it featured on the Choosy Bookworm site.

That’s pretty much it, and Karen swears by it… Sound like it’s worth a try, right?

What other proven techniques have you used to secure book reviews? Please share.

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Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan
Write • Edit • Self-publish • Word-of-mouth
Check out my Book Shepherding sessions.
avidean@videanunlimited.com

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How to become a best-selling Amazon author, and other secrets — ALWAYS

Twenty, established, Phoenix-area writers met for lunch at the Alliance of Literary Writers, Authors and Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS) gathering on March 12, 2015, in Phoenix. Here’s what happened.


At our tribe meeting, Deborah Brown, co-owner of Peters & Brown Multimedia Marketing & Publishing, shared five “amazing” book marketing tactics to reach Amazon best-seller status and build a book platform. Here they are:

ALWAYS members absorb Deborah's valuable marketing tips.

ALWAYS members absorb Deborah’s valuable marketing tips. (Photo by Eduardo Cervino.)

1. Start with the end in mind, to sell at least 1,000 ebooks in your category at a discount.

Her ideas included tips like:

  • Make sure your ebook tile and subtitle include your keywords.
  • Sell the book for $.99.
  • Use all four category designations available: two for print, two for Kindle.

2. Build your platform first

  • Start blogging about your book before it’s written.
  • Create lead pages to separate raving fans from others.
  • Follow Debbie Macomber and John Locke as great role models.
  • Use Pinterest for authors, linking to your blog.
  • Offer a multi-author box set.

3. Nurture your FLASH mob, perhaps starting with a campaign for crowd funding. Your mob includes:

  • Friends and family
  • Loyal clients and customers
  • Able and willing well-wishers
  • Selected partners
  • Hand-picked ambassadors

4. Capture leads on launch day.

  • Amazon does not identify who buys your book, so pre-market the launch date on a separate book-deal Web page, where you can capture contact info.

5. Keep marketing after your launch.

  • Do talk shows like Deborah’s “Boomer and the Babe” podcast.
  • Do something every day.

You can’t possibly get the scope of all of Deborah’s good ideas just from these highlights, so I encourage you to find the full version of her handout under the Files link on the ALWAYS Facebook page, or to contact her.

Watch our ALWAYS Facebook page for details on our next gathering on April 9, 2015 (we meet on the second Thursday of the month).

Do you have an idea for a topic or speaker? Maybe some information you need to help you move forward? Perhaps you or someone you know has some great author-related info to relate? Recommend away!

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Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan
Write • Edit • Self-publish • Word-of-mouth
avidean@videanunlimited.com

Share proven tips in our free established author roundtable — ALWAYS

If you feed them, will they come? This is a question you might pose about book signings. These delicious treats at my recent book signing with C.L. Gillmore (A Friend Request) were a hit attendees. It helps when you fellow author used to cater.

If you feed them, will they come? This is a question you might pose about book signings. Attendees loved these delicious treats at my recent Song of the Ocarina book signing with C.L. Gillmore (A Friend Request). It helps when your fellow author used to cater events.

What obstacles interfere with your writing?
What are you losing sleep over?
Need ideas and resources to move forward?

It’s a writer’s-choice meeting! Bring your questions and issues to the table for your fellow established authors’ input at our December 2014 gathering of the Alliance of Literary Writers, Authors and Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS).

Next gathering:
Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014
11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
(ALWAYS meets on the second Thursday of the month.)

Where:
Romeo’s Euro Café
(downtown GIlbert, AZ)
207 N. Gilbert Rd. #105
Gilbert, Arizona 85234
(480) 962-4224

Back-up location:
Joe’s BBQ
301 N. Gilbert Rd.
Gilbert, AZ 85234
(480) 503-3805

Cost:
A writing tip, and your own lunch.

RSVP:
PLEASE show the consideration of reserving your spot at the table by:
• RSVPing through the “Join” link on our Facebook Event page
or
• Contacting Ann Videan

If you’ve RSVP’d, please SHOW UP. If you run into a conflict, please let me know BEFORE the event so I can make the necessary adjustments for the group meeting. Cheers!
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ABOUT ALWAYS

• Need contacts to help your writing?
• Want advice about your writing?
• Like to hang with other cool writers?

If so, our tribe – the Alliance for Literary Writers, Authors & Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS) – is the place for you. We’re an informal group of established writers looking for camaraderie, ideas, enlightenment and connection with writers, especially in the Phoenix metro area, to talk about our craft and businesses.

Any established writer can connect with us online through our ALWAYS Facebook page, get listed in our directory of writers on our ALWAYS LinkedIn page, or you can meet with us in person at a lunch meeting. We’d love to have any experienced writer join us at our next meeting … anyone who spends a significant part of his/her week writing, and wants to rub elbows with other writers.

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Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan
Write • Edit • Self-publish • Word-of-mouth
avidean@videanunlimited.com

Eight top writing and vocabulary secrets from established authors – ALWAYS

At our Alliance of Literary Writers, Authors and Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS) gathering this week, five established writers shared their top writing secrets and vocabulary words for this month. Now you can benefit from them, too!

  1. Find font symbols
  2. Write every day
  3. Find speaking opportunities
  4. Create an em-dash
  5. Association for mystery writer
  6. Product placement in books
  7. Vocabulary suggestions
  8. A.Word.A.Day link
Visualize Your Vocabulary, Shayne Gardner

Visualize Your Vocabulary, Shayne Gardner

1. Shayne Gardner — who just published Visualize Your Vocabulary: Turn Any SAT Word into a Picture and Remember It Forever (Volume 1) with illustrations by Kris Hagen — provided a tip about finding special font symbols on a computer.

According to Microsoft Word’s help function, “You can use the Symbol dialog box to insert symbols, such as ¼ and ©, or special characters, such as an em dash (—) or ellipsis (…) that are not on your keyboard, as well as Unicode characters.” Here’s how.

Emma Dilemma series, Patricia Hermes

Emma Dilemma series, Patricia Hermes

2. Patricia Hemes, a multi-published author of the Emma Dilemma series among others, suggested simply that if you want to be a writer, you need to set time to write every day.

3. She also asked about speaking opportunities in the Phoenix area, and we suggested she contact the National Speakers Association headquartered in Tempe, Ariz.

4. Laurie Fagen, co-author in SoWest: Crime Time, a  Sisters in Crime Desert Sleuths Chapter Anthology (Volume 5), led us to a discussion about dashes. We differentiated these, and shared how to create them in Microsoft Word:

  • Hyphen (-), used to connect words
  •  En-dash (–), for connection ranges or dates
  • Em-dash (—), what most people call simply a “dash,” signifying a break in a thought or longer pause or interruption in dialogue
SoWest: Crime Time anthology, Laurie Fagen

SoWest: Crime Time anthology, Laurie Fagen

5. By the way, Laurie is the current president of the Sisters in Crime Desert Sleuths. This association for mystery writers meets the third Wednesday of the month at Grimaldi’s Pizzeria in downtown Scottsdale, Ariz.

6. Ann Videan (that’s me), author of Rhythms & Music women’s novel and soundtrack, and The Delfaerune Rhapsody series, suggested authors look into product placement in your books to develop additional revenue streams. She explained that this simply involves mentioning brand names in your story and approaching the company about supporting the book for its publicity value to them. She recommended this HowStuffWorks article to learn more.

Song of the Ocarina, Ann Videan

Song of the Ocarina, Ann Videan (book 1 of the Delfaerune Rhapsody series)

7. Our topic, vocabulary, helped unveiled several new fun words or phrases we can can all incorporate into our writing.

  • brilliant: popular in the United Kingdom, meaning cool, great, or an outstanding performance, concept, or product
  • mind the gap: a  phrase to warn passengers to be careful while crossing the gap between the train door and the station platform.
  • go to the loo: an informal, more polite way of saying you’re headed to the bathroom, or going to the toilet

(From these first three, can you tell Laurie just returned from a trip to Europe?)

  • kerfuffle: disturbance or fuss
  • ostentatious: fancy, showing off wealth of knowledge to gain attention
  • ambitious: desiring to be successful, famous, or powerful; not easily done or achieved
  • grawlixes: typographical symbols standing for profanities, appearing in dialogue balloons in place of actual dialogue
  • ar·sy–var·sy: backside forward, head over heels, topsy-turvy
  • interrobang: a printed punctuation mark (‽), available only in some typefaces, designed to combine the question mark (?) and the exclamation point (!), indicating a mixture of query and interjection
  • histrionic: over-the-top melodramatic or theatrical
  • opprobrious: expressing scorn or criticism
  • disconcert: unsettle, disturb the composure of

(These last three are Shayne’s favorites from his new vocab book. Weren’t we lucky to have him attend today and share such cool words?)

8. For an introduction to a new word every day, complete with pronunciations, Laurie suggested subscribing to Wordsmith.org’s A.Word.A.Day.

Care to add your own tips or favorite words?

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#5 Writing tip: Writing is not a solitary sport

Writers at Virginia Piper Writing House

Actual writers look like this. Kris Tualla, Tisha Pelletier and Laurie Fagen at the Virginia G. Piper Writer’s House at Arizona State University. ©2010 ANVidean

Picture a writer.

Do you imagine a frazzle-haired, pajama-clad recluse sitting at odd hours and brooding over a computer screen, fiendishly snacking or imbibing caffeine? Perhaps she paces the floor, or maybe bangs her forehead on the desk, until inspiration hits. She might spend long hours taking guidance from characters who “tell her what to write.” She may even pour through defunct manuals explaining all the nitpicky grammatical rules no one pays attention to any more in this day of abbreviating and texting?

Yeah, that’s how the movies depict us. But, in real life, writing isn’t effective in solitary. Great writers get out and explore life, listen to conversations, try out experiences, and share their craft.

Sure we sit in the quiet when we’re actually putting words together, but most of the writing takes place mentally and experientially before we sit down at our computer or notebook. At least it should.

It doesn’t matter if you’re writing fiction, nonfiction, or business memos…input from external sources encouraging emotional phrasing and storytelling gets your words read. Here are some ideas:

• Sit in a coffee shop to listen to conversations and watch mannerisms.

• Try doing something new, perhaps even something your book character or employees do, and note your emotional and mental reactions to include in your writing.

• Join a writing association. It can help you, even if you’re not writing books.

• Meet with a critique partner or group.

• Form your own writing group like my Alliance for Literary Writers, Authors and Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS) tribe.

What do you do to garner input and experiences for your writing?