Six Book Marketing Mysteries Unraveled to Help You Get Great Reviews and Sell Your Book!

by | Aug 20, 2015 | Book Marketing Basics, Getting More Book Reviews

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6 Book Marketing Mysteries Unraveled Get Reviews Sell Books AME Blog PostI’ve been in this business a long time, and have heard this complaint thousands of times. Authors often tell me their books get great reviews (on Amazon, Goodreads, blogs, etc.), receive literary awards, yet still, the book sales just don’t happen. Authors get frustrated and say, “I just don’t get it!” But sometimes, it might just be a matter of taking a closer look at your marketing strategy and analyzing it with a different lens. If this sounds like your situation, here are six issues you should consider:

  1.  Leverage: First and foremost is leverage. How are you leveraging your book’s positive publicity? Are you leveraging it at all? If not, you should be. It’s easy enough to include an award sticker on your book, but have you done anything else to promote it? Here are a few ways to leverage your (free) publicity:
    • Announce it to local media: Especially if you won the award. Honorable mentions are great, but not as appealing.
    • Contact your local bookstores. Even if they’ve previously said no, promoting an award-winning book might entice them to change their minds. People tend to like what other people like and the same is true for bookstores.
    • Add it to your website. That’s a given. Same  goes for your email signature block.
    • Reach out to reviewers: If you have pending reviewers (i.e. , you’ve targeted them but haven’t received a response), why not approach them a second time, being sure to mention you won this award?
    • Seek endorsements: If you’ve been after high-profile endorsements for your book but they keep eluding you, you may have a better chance of it with an award in your pocket, so try pitching them again.
  2. Reviews: If you have a lot of reviews but still aren’t seeing commensurate sales, I recommend taking a lesson from the first point  and ask yourself: “Am I making the most of these reviews?” For example, sharing positive reviewer could be the push you need to get responses from possible endorsers or bookstores.. The same doesn’t apply to reviewers, however. Most reviewers aren’t swayed by books that have tons of reviews. They either select the book or they don’t, so don’t push this one too hard.
  3. Engagement: Ask yourself, “Am I really engaging my readers?” Often when we get a “hit” in one place, we tend to focus all of our energy there, at the expense of other places. It’s useful to step back and make sure you’re not missing anything. For example, when did you last send thank you notes to your reviewers, or posted a thank you message on their blogs? If your website or blog is receiving lots of comments, I encourage you to connect with readers there, too. Additionally, have you considering getting onto GoodReads, Library Thing or Wattpad and building readership there? Finally, if you’re a fiction author you should consider engaging your readers with your characters. Making your readers fall in love (or in hate) with your characters is a great way to build a strong, loyal audience.
  4. Media gets media: Authors often tell me, “I’ve gotten tons of local media coverage, but nothing nationally.” This is pretty typical but luckily, there’s something you can do to make traction with the national media. Just remember: “media loves media.” What does this mean?  The more media you get, the more you’ll get. When you pitch yourself to national media, include a one-sheet of all of the places you’ve been featured, even if it’s your own town.  Demonstrating interest in your book will spark other media interest, which will likely help you sell books!
  5. The plight of book reviews: Reviews are a critical part of the publishing industry, but do they actually sell books? Frankly, it’s hard to know. While I do know that lots of exposure sells books, it’s really about the right kind of exposure and in a myriad of areas. If you’ve been heavily focused on getting a ton of book reviews, and your Amazon page is populated with positive reviews from top to bottom—but you’re still not selling books— it might be time to shift into a new area of promotion. And don’t underestimate the importance of content: free and frequent content. For example, don’t wait eighteen months to release a book that leaves your reader hanging for more from your characters.
  6. Cultivating a new approach to book sales: The truth is, most authors think we should be selling more than we actually are. Even though we know there’s an “average” in book sales, we tend to focus on the bestsellers like XYZ, who are selling zillions of books. But what’s a realistic approach to book sales? As is usually the case – the answer is somewhere in between. If you have numerous awards and are selling a book a day, that’s actually not a bad start in many markets. For example, if you wrote a contemporary romance novel, it will be hard to sell as many books as if you were in a narrower, more niche market. Some authors never sell more than a book a month. Seriously. So be realistic and consider placing your book in a niche market, where you can really stand out from the crowd.

It’s fabulous to receive reviews, awards, and accolades from influencers in your industry, but if no one knows about them, then what’s the point? Yes, you will often have to hit readers over the head with your kudos, if for no other reason than people are busy. So what to do if you’ve got an award? Shout it from the rooftops. Got oodles of great reviews? Let people know, and see if they can’t be a launching pad to something else, like more book sales.


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