Episode 22 – Live Events, Cliffhangers and Reviews

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With Jim’s Author Marketing Live event just a few days away, we talked about what it takes to run a live event. Bryan and Jim chatted about this week’s tips: cliffhanger pricing, incorporating video into your platform and when to use KDP Select. The news stories included a publishing company that successfully dropped Amazon, the condensing of non-fiction classics, how audiobook listeners consume content, the recent Guardian $6,000 self-publishing story and David Gaughran’s marketing tips for beginners. We discussed the importance of getting reviews in depth, which formed the Question of the Week: How do you get reviews on your books?

What You’ll Learn: 
  • The amount of work Jim has put into Author Marketing Live
  • How one author leapt to six-figures by jumping off the cliff
  • Five ways to adapt your printed materials into video
  • Reasons why you might want to use KDP Select
  • What EDC did to survive without Amazon
  • How Bryan used condensed non-fiction books for personal growth
  • Why audiobook readers may be the future of indie publishing
  • What Jim thinks about the recent $6,000 self-publishing claim by the Guardian
  • David Gaughran’s 10-step system for starting from zero as an author
  • How Bryan gets reviews on his books
  • The importance of asking
Question of the Week: How do you get reviews on your books?


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  • Lavie Margolin

    Hi. I am Lavie Margolin, author of Winning Answers to 500 Interview Questions and The LinkedIn Butterfly Effect. Here are 3 ways that I was able to get reviews:

    1. Include an incentive in the book/when promoting the book for someone to reach out to you so that you may then ask them to write a review. For example, in my book The LinkedIn Butterfly Effect, I have an offer to provide a free LinkedIn profile review to those that email me with proof of purchase. Once I’ve provided the profile review, I ask that person to write a review on Amazon. It helped me to get many verified purchase reviews.

    2. I’ve been building up my aforementioned professional network on LinkedIn for years. I email everyone from my network who I think might be interested in reading the book and offer to send the person a free PDF in exchange for the review. I sent out about 150 and about 20 did so, which helped me to be listed as either the top rated or #2 rated book in my categories for Winning Answers to 500 Interview Questions.

    3. Once you have a few books, you can see who has reviewed your books in the past. If you can contact them, reach out and offer them the chance to review your new book. If they want a print copy, do it as they have already proven themselves.

    • Bryan

      Thanks for the tips, Lavie. Linked In definitely seems like a great idea for non-fiction.

  • Hey guys!
    I would love to go to your event, but it just can’t happen this year. I hope it goes so fabulously well that you will do it again. Will you record .. maybe…some of the talks????
    I find getting reviews like pulling rusty nails out of a 2X4. I know I have fans because they buy my most popular book, The Lady in Yellow, more and more, (so someone’s talking), then they go on to buy my other books and short stories. But they won’t leave a review! I even ask on the front and back pages. I’ve used the Review Grabber tool. I have all these five and four stars, but not for while. Occasionally I get a nasty one star from someone who makes me wonder if they ever read the blurb, or looked at the top review that basically tells the whole story. I don’t get it. It doesn’t seem to stop sales though. This book just keeps on going.

    I will take Lavie’s advice and try Linkdin. And whatever people can suggest. I know if I had a podcast or something it would help immensely, but having to buy and learn more tech always stalls me,

    • We’re filming it but not sure what we’re doing to do with the video yet. Next time you can come.

    • Bryan

      For me, the Reviewer Grabber is the gift that keeps on giving. Especially now that I’ve hired a virtual assistant to help me send out the emails.

      • Maybe I should keep trying. Sometimes I think my comments sound negative but they’re not. I might just be a bit like Dave. 🙂

  • Nick Marsden

    Thanks for your input about reviews. I am one of those guys who has had a book up for (cringe) 2 years and only have 4 reviews. I just didn’t know how to do it. Some of the suggestions here have helped. And the question of the week is helping me. Please people send more ideas, because I have none.

    I’ve done:
    1. Gotten reviews from friends (2)
    2. Goodreads giveaway only netted 1 review for 5 paper books given away.
    3. Free sales for short term (not permafree) netted 0 reviews.
    4. One or two random reviews from readers.

    • Bryan

      Glad the suggestions are helping, Nick! I’ve had some success with StoryCartel in the past, though my latest efforts yielded fewer than 8-12 months ago.

  • Crissy Moss

    I’m still working on getting reviews for myself, however Garrett Robinson, my co-host on STP, just got 100 reviews on his book Nightblade in less then a month. He was already doing pretty good with reviews before that, but with this book he offered a free copy of the second book for the first 100 people that reviewed the book. I think there might be a bit of a cliff hanger at the end of book one as well. People were jumping at the chance to get the second book for free.

    • Bryan

      That’s impressive! Great idea from Garrett. Thanks!

  • Gillian

    I usually get reviews via blog tours. I email every single blogger when I am putting together my tours. One tour I had over 70 bloggers.

    • Bryan

      Good idea, Gillian. Do most of them review the books on Amazon as well?

      • Gillian

        Yes, they mostly do Amazon and Goodreads. Sometimes they only do it on their site, when that happens, I ask for permission to republish it on my blog with a link back to theirs. It works for everybody.

        • Bryan

          Very cool.

  • I was wondering if anyone had success with StoryCartel, I just added my books so I will find out soon.

    In my first month on my book being for sale have had 8 reviews on Amazon, and 10 on goodreads.
    For the last few months I’ve been gathering up emails for advanced readers, and did a successful Kickstarter campaign to get early interest.

    I sent advance tweets out offering the book for free in return of a honest review – received 3 reviews.

    I also have completed a blog tour where I get 10 reviews from the bloggers – 10 reviews pending due this week.
    And signed up for a 6 month blog tour where you get 60 reviews – this starts in November very interested in the results.

    I also signed up for a goodreads group and my book was selected to be reviewed, dues to get 6 more reviews by 10/7. – 2 reviews currently – 4 pending

    I’ve ran a goodreads giveaway one winner is 3#reviewer in Peru, and started reading the book, also posted a few comments. One thing I’ve found useful is emailing a few people each week that entered the giveaway and ask if they would like a few copy, and if they like it, that I would love a review – 2 reviews.

    Each week a plug away at getting revewis, they are more important to me than sales. Once I get to 10 reviews I will be applying for some of the mailing lists to promoto my book when its free. And launching book 2 pre order this week and 3 shorts mid Oct. I’m basically giving everything a go 😀

    • Bryan

      Great rounded out campaign, HJ! Keep us up to speed with your results.

  • ❤️Marie Long❤️

    $6,000 to publish a book? Unless your book is 300,000 words in length or something, that’s outrageous. Definitely sounds like one of those vanity publisher “packages”. I agree that editing can be expensive, but there are a ton of good-quality editors out there who cater to indie authors on a budget. Writing communities like Kboards and Absolute Write are great places to go to compare editor services and find the right one you need that fits your budget.

    I think the one thing that can cost the most is quality cover art. Especially if you are using exclusive artwork/stock photos. Finding a good cover artist can be expensive, and many can charge over $1,000, depending on what you need. But if you are an author on a budget, you can find some great premade covers for cheap. Again, go to writing communities and compare some of these resources.

    Most books cost less than $1,000 to publish from start to finish. And if you can do a lot of this stuff yourself, that makes it even lower. Don’t believe the hype that publishing a book will suck out your life savings.

    • Bryan

      Agreed, Marie. Thanks for checking out one of our back catalogue episodes :).

      • ❤️Marie Long❤️

        🙂 I’ve been enjoying binge-listening to these podcasts. Keep up the great work, guys!