So who was the other guest at the wedding, the one who works in publishing? Martin, a charming man who runs a small-to-medium company, with whom I had an unexpectedly pleasant chat. “Time was,” he said, “when reading groups would beg authors to come and talk about their latest books. Now authors go round begging the groups!”
He was responding to what I’d told him about a reading group I attend, a small, in-the-flesh Crimes & Thrillers group that I’d recently set up a Facebook page for, where people round the world can see and comment on what we’ve been reading. My fellow members and I soon realized that most of the people asking to join were authors who had no interest in what we were reading. They simply wanted to promote their own books. Some were pushy; some were patronizing, suggesting ever so subtly how they were doing us a great favour. The best of those who joined (whose posts I hated removing) were polite. I quickly amended our mission statement. Now no one—me included—is allowed to to publicize their own books. When even that didn’t work, I made it a pre-condition of joining.
For indie authors (and now for traditionally-published authors, who are increasingly obliged to do their own marketing), finding ways to publicize their book outside their own social network can be a nightmare. With anything between two and four million new titles published each year, how are they to get their book read and reviewed without resorting to spamming?
One cheap and cheerful way to generate reviews is to offer free copies on LibraryThing. Write a blurb to attract your target audience. For instance, if it’s a cozy mystery, fans of the police procedural may think that it’s pants. On average, approximately only 30 percent of those who “win” your book will end up reviewing it despite the contractual obligation they enter into, and you can wait months if not years for those reviews to roll in—which is actually no bad thing, as I’ll be discussing next month.
For the first time ever, Goodreads now offers a giveaway service for ebooks. You can give away up to 100 copies of your novel for a set fee of either US$119 for their standard or US$599 for their premium option. Be aware that winners are not contractually obliged to review your book, though you can encourage them to share their thoughts/favourite passages on Goodreads using the new Kindle Notes & Highlights. It’s early days, though I would expect to see roughly the same percentage of reviewers as with the LibraryThing giveaway.
NetGalley offers a similar service, with rates ranging from US$199 to $699, though in this case their membership is tailored to people with connections to the book trade: publishers, reviewers, and book bloggers. This service works best before the general release of your book, generating buzz for you, as people like to call it.
Another rather high-end option is to purchase a single review, possibly from a blogger with a large following (though I suggest you only consider this if you happen to follow the blogger in question yourself). Instead go for a reputable and highly respected organization with an indie arm, such as Kirkus. Their services start at a cool US$425, which, given that someone has to read your book and write about it in quite a short time-frame, hardly seems unreasonable. If the review is favourable, you can cherry pick a quote for your front matter, your cover, or both. If it’s not, you can ignore it and ask them to remove it from their website. It’s still quite a lot of money, though, for no guaranteed return.
This month’s giveaway is a free download of The Scarab Heart. This time our reluctant medium is off to the Valley of the Kings, where she finds herself embroiled in an ancient family feud, and gets caught up in antiquities theft and murder. Use coupon code AU79Y. Offer ends on June 30th 2018, and, no, there’s absolutely no review required!
“I have got to say, these books are unlike any other I have read…almost impossible to put down.”—Helene Gårdsvold Amazon.com Reviewer (5 stars)
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Michael Gallagher is the author of two series of novels set in Victorian times. Send for Octavius Guy chronicles the attempts of fourteen-year-old Gooseberry—reformed master pickpocket—to become a detective, aided and abetted by his ragtag bunch of friends. The Involuntary Medium follows the fortunes of young Lizzie Blaylock, a girl who can materialize the spirits of the dead, as she strives to come to terms with her unique gift. For twenty-five years Michael taught adults with learning disabilities at Bede, a London-based charity that works with the local community. He now writes full time.
You can always message me using the Contact Me form or send me an email. Both Malane, who designs this website for me, and I really look forward to hearing from you, and I will always try to respond personally if I can. Why not include a photo we can use if we publish?