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Paying For Book Reviews

I’ve come across a few articles recently huffing and puffing about the awfulness of the concept of paying for book reviews. I can’t understand why some people get so worked up about it. What is so morally wrong about an author paying an experienced book reviewer to review their book and post the review in the relevant places, such as their own book blog if they have one and on Amazon, Goodreads, and so on? You’re not buying their opinion – just their time and expertise. You’re paying for a service, in the same way that you might pay an editor to edit your book, or an architect to design you a house.

Relying on friends, relatives and the general public to turn out reviews is usually very disappointing. It takes a very committed person to regularly turn in reviews voluntarily. Even if readers enjoy your book and thoroughly intend to write a review of it. often as not life gets in the way and then they forget.  And on top of that they may not be very good at reviewing. Book reviewing is quite a skill and not everyone can write interestingly about something they’ve read. The secret is to give a brief synopsis but without revealing too much of the story, and then to express a considered opinion of the book’s and the author’s merits. You need to touch on characterization, plot, language, pace and so on, not simply trot out a few sentences about what happens to the heroine.

Book reviews are considered very good publicity and no one complains about authors paying for advertising space on relevant websites or in magazines. That’s not seen as somehow underhand or disreputable. I think there’s a slight case of double standards going on out there.

If you’re prepared to pay for a timely, professional book review then that’s your choice and, in my opinion, it’s a very wise one.

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5 Reasons To Join In A Blog Hop

I’d intended to be doing a blog hop today. It’s St Rita’s day and she’s the patron saint of the impossible. Indie authors do the impossible in my view by finding the time and motivation in their busy lives to write, self-publish and self-promote on top of everything else. It seemed a good day to choose. So I set things up about a month ago but annoyingly I’ve been under the weather and also suddenly, but nicely, snowed under with editing work, so I didn’t do enough publicity and had very few prospective hoppers so I cancelled. I’ll be rescheduling though, definitely. Blog hops are brilliant.

But why? What’s so good about them. Here are five reasons:

  1. They bring new readers to your blog. Most blog hops offer freebies to readers so there’s lots of interest out there. If someone lands on any one of the blogs in the hop, they’ll be able to get to yours quickly and easily, and usually they bother. I’ve been in a couple of blog hops now and my readership figures have soared each time.
  2. They’re fun! There was certainly a great atmosphere surrounding the expat blog hop I organised in April. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves, both bloggers and hoppers alike.
  3. You meet new people – not just new visitors to your blog, but also fellow bloggers in the hop. I always visit everyone one else involved and I’ve discoverd some great blogs that way, and some great new cyber friends!
  4. You learn things. I picked up some handy hints about expat life from that blog hop, and through a writing related blog hop I signed up to I found some new sites and learned some great tips on marketing.
  5. You give and get freebies and goodwill. If you’re blogging then you give some freebies, for which people are grateful, and you can get some too by visiting the other blogs involved. I’ve accumulated lots of great short stories that way and definitely feel loyalty to those writers who were kind enough to hand out some of their work for free. They’re at the top of my ‘to buy’ list now.

So, I’m all for blog hops. What do you think of them? And do watch this space, because I’ll be running one very soon …


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Getting Your Book Discovered

I’ve just discovered a real gem of an article by the CEO of Goodreads regarding the best way to get your book ‘discovered’.

In a nutshell, here are the best ways to get your book noticed:

  • Word of mouth works. 79% of Goodreads members report discovering books from friends offline, and 64% find books from their Goodreads friends. And simply finding out that someone is reading a certain book is enough to get another person interested.
  • Pre-launch buzz. You can’t start too early. Giveaways on Goodreads pre publication are a good way to get early reviews up and start people talking about your book.
  • Build a tribe by building relationships with your books. An astounding 96% of readers say they’ll read another book by an author they like. There’s the vague remark that ‘very few’ people read books they hear about on Facebook or Twitter, but I suspect that’s a tiny bit partisan! I for one find an awful lot of books through Twitter in particular, so by  no means discount that as a way to get known about.
  • Video chats are an effective way to reach a large audience.
  • The main ways people discover new books on Goodreads are: search; registration; recommendation engine; friends’ updates; genre browsing; author and series; lists; mobile; giveaways, and other.

Read the full article here. Plenty to think about there. I know I shall be acting on Otis’s advice, and very soon!