Making A Review Work For You

My Tuesday Talk Guest Kerryn Reid talks about 
Learning To Waltz - and how to make the best of those reviews!


First of all, I want to thank Helen for inviting me here to crow a little bit.
I am overjoyed to win the Regency category of the Chatelaine Awards for Women’s Fiction and Romance! 
It took a very long year to get the final results, but it was worth it. 

This is just one of Chanticleer Book Reviews’ impressive line-up of annual contests. The prize package includes a nice blue ribbon, gold foil stickers, digital stickers to use online, and some other goodies. 

But best of all is one of Chanticleer’s coveted book reviews! Normally, those reviews cost money. My marketing budget is too small for that!
(Alas, that review is not out yet. With around 125 category winners in ten different genres, it takes a little while to write them all. See the full line-up.)

Writers write for different reasons. There are some, I’m told, who write purely for their own pleasure, with no ambition to be published, much less successful. That’s an attitude I envy; they’ll never have to stress about SEO, social media or their “internet footprint.”

The rest of us are more greedy. We want something to show for the tears we’ve shed over our literary children. Some of us set our sights on the validation that comes from acceptance by a major publisher. Some want to sell a million copies, or make a million dollars. Some yearn to reach the New York Times best-seller list or see their beloved story on the silver screen.

I assume there are others like me, whose biggest motivator is critical acclaim. There’s not much that makes me happier than a good review. Whether it comes from Chanticleer Book Reviews or an Amazon reader, it thrills me.

I’ve been lucky. I’ve submitted my first novel, Learning to Waltz, to eight or ten free review sites. Of those, almost all came through, and the reviews they posted were very complimentary indeed. The Historical Novel Society called it “stirring and intelligent… [an] extremely promising debut.” The Romance Reviews said it was “stunning.” And to top those off, the reviewer at Readers’ Favorite called the book both “perfect” and “flawless.” She’s wrong, of course, but I’m not complaining! How awesome to think that someone found it worthy of such praise! (Awesome in the old-fashioned sense of scary, too. Because Book #2 is misbehaving. Badly.)



I flew from Florida to Washington State to attend Chanticleer’s annual conference, where they distribute those pretty blue ribbons. (No, they did not pay my way, though the category winners received a discount on the conference fee.) Another awesome-in-both-senses experience, centered not on writing but on marketing and promoting books. We talked about reviews, of course, as one factor that can help drive sales. 

Many of the authors in attendance lamented the existence of “trolls” who get their jollies by bad-mouthing authors and books they often haven’t even read, posting atrocious reviews on Amazon or Goodreads. Just because they can, I guess. 

I’ve been lucky there, too. The trolls must not bother with books below a certain threshold of sales. Because I’m sorry to say, great reviews don’t necessarily translate into great sales numbers. I hear 100 is a magic number on Amazon, and I’m nowhere near that. So it’s a good thing I care more about quality than quantity, right?

Well, yes. I really do. Most of the time. 

Nevertheless…

So how can an author put a great review to work? 

  • Copy the entire review to a Word.doc and create a snippet (excerpt) to use in promotions. Choose all the best parts!
  • If it is an editorial review, post the snippet in the Editorial Reviews section on your book’s Amazon page. (Do this through your book page at Amazon Author Central.) According to Kiffer Brown of Chanticleer, posting editorial reviews here raises your “Amazon love” quotient and SEO. In addition, booksellers and librarians use these reviews to make buying decisions. Some readers do too. (What is an editorial review? Chanticleer tells you. And for a more detailed look at how to make them work, see this.)
  • Post the snippet on your home page with a link to the full review, either on the original site or elsewhere on your website.
  • Do the same with Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and whatever other social media sites you use. Also your writers’ loops.
  • Send the full review to your email list. Let them share your excitement!
  • Some reviewers post to Goodreads automatically. If they don’t, you can post one in the My Review section. Just list the review site at the top so readers know it’s not your review of your own book!
  • Quote a few words from your latest review in your email signature, along with a link to the full review on your website (or the original review site): “I can’t wait to read it again. A real gem!” Online Book Club
  • Create a Word.doc containing all those great snippets for easy access when you want one. Condense it to a half page, then pretty it up with clipart and insert one in each copy of your book at book signings. Maybe enlarge and frame it for your signing table.
  • You can list your book free on Storyfinds.com, along with up to five rotating review snippets. They run some fun, reasonably-priced promotions, too. And on ReadersFavorite.com you can paste in as many reviews as you want.
  • If it’s really an important review – The New York Times, say – read it from the rooftops! In costume! Then send out a press release.
  • Last, and definitely not least, thank the reviewer! Even if it’s a so-so review, the reader took the time to write it. A simple “thank you for your comments” is only polite. This won’t sell books, but it might build goodwill. (One exception: Ignore the trolls.)

If you’re lucky, these tips will bring you some sales. They won’t make a you a best-seller (unless it’s the NYT) – and if they do, I want to hear about it! In fact, I’d love to hear whatever you have to say. Comment on Helen’s blog or use the contact links below. And be sure to sign up for my newsletter, Seasons of the Past. Click here to read a sample issue. 



website: www.kerrynreid.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kerrynreid.fiction
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kerryn_reid
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/kerrynareid


24 comments:

  1. Lots of great advice here, the awards sound fun too.

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    1. Yes, awards are great fun, Rosie! Made some new friends, too. Thanks for commenting, Rosie!

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  2. This is a good post - yes, you're right, writers are motivated by self-fulfilment, money, fame or public reiteration of their talent. Like you, I am one of the last group. I quote with no shame from all my best reviews, and pin them to my Twitter page head gleefully! xx

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    1. Thanks Terry - I must admit I haven't made much use of my reviews up until now.... this will change!

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    2. Oh, I'm glad to hear I'm not alone! Thanks for adding a tip of your own, Terry!

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  3. Thank you Kerryn for such an interesting and useful post - always nice to learn something new. I'm off to grab my good reviews and make use of them.....

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    1. Go for it, Helen. And thank YOU again for hosting me!

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  4. Some great ideas here, easy to do as well. Thanks for another great post Helen.

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    1. Thanks Moontide - yes, quick, easy and effective!

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    2. I really like easy, Moontide. My marketing budget doesn't include a lot of money OR time!

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  5. Really useful information here - thanks very much :) And congratulations to Kerryn for all your successes and wonderful reviews :)

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    1. Aww, thank so much, Annie. Hope you can make use of some of this!

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  6. Hi Kerryn! Great post... and I loved getting to know you at the Chanticleer conference. I'm definitely using some of your ideas for getting the most from reviews as soon as I can find the time. I admit, I'd rather be writing than marketing. Loved "Learning to Waltz" and looking forward to reading book number two.

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    1. I agree wholeheartedly, Kim. Nevertheless, we have to take advantage of the selling tools we have. Thanks for commenting!

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    2. Thanks Kim - apologies for the delay in getting back to you (I'm getting over a flu-type virus :-(

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  7. Kerryn Reid - it was wonderful to meet you at the Chanticleer Authors Conference and congratulations on taking home a Chatelaine First Place Awards Ribbon! And thank you Holly Hollick for hosting!

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    1. Thanks for coming, Kiffer. And for that pretty blue ribbon!

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  8. Kerryn, your post is full of great ideas for marketing books. Thanks for those suggestions and congratulations on your winning ideas, all of them blue-ribbon bonanzas!

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    1. Thank you, Elaine, whichever name you wish to use! Nice to meet you!

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  9. Well, that was not the moniker I intended to use. Sometimes the Internet has its own ideas, doesn't it? This should go up with my author name, etc. My comments above still stand.

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    1. LOL - Blogger often has a mind of its own! Thanks for dropping by Elaine!

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