Generating Buzz Through Book Reviews

beeOptimizing buzz from book reviews can be an key part of your book’s overall marketing campaign, so it’s important to make time for it, even if you’re like me and writing isn’t your primary day-job. 

Allow me to share a few tips that helped me get SIXTY-THREE book reviews and interviews for my new book, Radical Well-being, while suffering only a short-term, reversible case of utter exhaustion. Yay!!

(1) Establish your platform and develop relationships on the Internet long before you ask people to review your book.

When you pitch to book reviewers, it helps if you already have an established presence on the Internet and elsewhere. That’s why you need as many of these as possible (I included links so you can see what mine look like): an author website, Facebook fan/author & book pages, an Amazon.com author page, at least ten positive reviews on your book’s Amazon.com page, a Pinterest page, a Linked-In profile, a video book trailer on Youtube (see my latest book trailer, for example), a Twitter account, a blog (I actually created an interactive forum for discussion about my diet book–with a blog embedded in it), an Internet talk radio show, a newsletter or e-zine, magazine articles, and as many TV and radio appearances as possible. Don’t necessarily shoot for perfection on your Internet pages before you publish them. Just get your pages up and running. You can improve them gradually, over time, if need be.

(2) Pitch to every reviewer you can, and do it early.

I started collecting names and contact information for book reviewers, columnists, newsletter producers, and bloggers in my specific niche about six to nine months before the official launch date for Radical Well-being. As soon as the reviewers responded with interest, I asked if they would accept an electronic version of the book when it became available. If the answer was “No,” I put them on a separate list to receive a bound galley copy (a rough version of the book).

(3) Ask your publisher for an electronic version of your book to send to reviewers early. Also, get the cover art to include with the book file.

Almost half of the sixty-three people who agreed to review my book were willing to accept an electronic copy. The copy was watermarked by the publisher to deter widespread bootlegging. Attach the book’s cover art, a short author bio, and a book synopsis to the book file when you email it to reviewers, and send sample interview questions if the blogger wants to run an interview about you, as well. Bloggers love it when you suggest questions they might want to ask you.

(4) Try to coordinate reviewers to publish on the day of your book’s actual launch date.

Start well in advance. Otherwise, you won’t allow your reviewers enough time to read your book and write their reviews before your launch date! I had to scramble in this regard, as my publisher unexpectedly moved up my book’s release date by two months! Yikes! To help my publicist get the galley copies out in time, I actually printed out cover letters and mailing labels and snail mailed them to her. That way, all she had to do was put the galleys in the envelopes, insert my signed cover letter, affix the mailing label, and send them off. It wasn’t necessary for me to do that, but it freed her up to get me more media hits than I could get on my own, so it was worth the effort on my part.

(5) Solicit radio interviews well in advance of your book’s launch date, if possible.

You don’t have to be a major author to get radio spots. Try for Internet radio! Some hosts with smaller audiences may be eager to have you on. The nice thing about radio is you can PRE-record shows, thus freeing yourself up for other buzz-building activities on your launch date. Plus, you don’t have to get all dressed up or travel far from home like you do with TV. As a side note…. when you pitch to radio producers, keep in mind they get hundreds of pitches a day. Odds are high they won’t make it past your email’s subject line if it’s boring, so write one that’s enticing! My subject line read, “Christian IvyLeague MedDoc/radio guest/author w/ unlimited FREE Kindle diet book downloads for ALL ur listeners, Jan8-12.” Yes, you read that right. I offered my first book, The Eden Diet, entirely FREE, in exchange for a chance to talk about my second book, Radical Well-being. (By the way, you can have my diet book for FREE, too, if you want it. It’s FREE on Kindle through January 12, 2013. Just follow the link above, which I shamelessly worked into this point. Do you see what I did there? Use every opportunity!)

(6) Make marketing opportunities for your book anywhere possible.

The launch date for my new book, Radical Well-beingA Biblical Guide to Overcoming Pain, Illness, and Addictions, was YESTERDAY!!!! Thus, I wrote this blog entry ahead of time and strategically set it aside for publication today. As you can see, preparing promotional material in advance is critical if you want to achieve optimal buzz around the time of your book’s launch.

(7) Send reminders to your reviewers and radio hosts.

Don’t expect everyone who promised you a review or an interview to necessarily remember your release date. In fact, just assume they already forgot. Send them a “thanks again for agreeing to publish my review on [insert launch date]. May I provide any further information to facilitate your writing the review?” Many reviewers responded with a “I’m so glad you reminded me…” or “Would you mind reminding me again in two weeks? I have a lot going on right now.”

(8) Thank your reviewers with back-links to their reviews. 

It’s only courteous! And it’s good for relationship-building. Keep in mind that you might write another book someday and might therefore solicit reviews again from these bloggers! As for me, I intend to publish “thank you’s” and back-links in the February 2013 edition of Dr. Rita’s Christian Health Newsletter, which goes out to over 3400 subscribers. I also posted thank you’s to my reviewers on Facebook and elsewhere.

As you can see, it isn’t easy to create buzz for your new books, but starting early, working hard, and establishing good cyber-relationships certainly helps. A little bit of OCD doesn’t hurt, either.

Do YOU have info to add, here? If so, I’m all ears! What additional advice do YOU have regarding how to solicit and coordinate book reviews and interviews to optimize book buzz? Any and all comments are appreciated!

Blessings from Dr. Rita!

Small Pond, Big Splash

Make a Splash!

On my recent mini book tour, I discovered how easy it is to create major buzz in a small geographical pocket.  Since Phoenix has 1 ½ million residents, I haven’t made much of a local splash for all my marketing efforts. Call me a city girl, but you can imagine how thrilled I was to create major splash in several small communities?

I chose a small Ohio town (the setting of my novel) and an Indiana Mennonite community because my characters are, yes, Mennonite. In twelve short days, I connected with hundreds of people who started a local buzz about my books. I did my part, and the rest just happened.

Imagine hundreds of rocks simultaneously tossed into water. The ripples intersect and make a major splash. The same disturbance would go unnoticed in the ocean, but is visible in a pond.

Helpful Tips for a Mini Book Tour

Establish a relationship with local influencers. They work hard on your behalf. Influencers booked my speaking engagement, organized book signings, and blogged and promoted my events. They placed newspaper notifications for me. See what I mean about easy?

Keep costs down. If you need to buy books, don’t over purchase (like I did) unless you wish to haul them around. I left unsold books with influencers. I did cover half of my expenses, and I’m sure I can do better next time.

Book at least one paid speaking event. My event had 200 + guests. I sold 40 books and gave free handouts with my contact information. It was a bonus when a newspaper reporter covered the event.

Take a guestbook to your events. I didn’t, but I will next time! A guestbook would provide a relaxing way to get name spellings, information, and jot notes for later—all while making pleasant conversation with readers. I frantically jotted notes that got shoved into my purse. Not very professional.

Attend local events, even if it’s not your event. When a book tour is the reason for your visit to a community, the topic naturally accompanies personal introductions.

Giveaways. Offering free bookmarks opens conversations with people who wouldn’t otherwise make eye contact. Book giveaways are both promo and ministry. Trust God with your offerings.

Get prayer support. I would have remained fearful and frazzled without my prayer support team. Thanks guys!

Take your vitamins. Even good stress is hard on the immune system, and I ended up going to Urgent Care two days upon my return. (Probably because I was an introvert on overload)

Benefits and Blessings

          Meeting local authors

          Opportunity to sign shelved books in local bookstores and gift shops.

–          Networking – (Got featured in summer reading group. They approached me!)

–          Media/newspaper coverage

          Unexpected opportunities – Books placed in church and school libraries

          Purchasing items for future promo.  Of course I bought a handcrafted Amish doll.

          Photographing opportunities for website, blog, and promo use

–          Research for blogging topics

          Gleaning new information about the book industry

–          Ministry – planting spiritual seeds and encouraging readers

–          Personal growth

 

Who are your influencers? Are you building relationships with them? Do you implement the small pond, big splash method for marketing your books?