In this series of blog posts, I am focussing on a marketing topic that applies specifically to authors: a list of what NOT to do when you're about to launch a new book.
Since each of these 'rules' requires a little explanation, including all six in one blog post would make this the most epic blog post of all time, so for your sanity (and mine) I've turned my list into a series, which you can follow here.
My apologies in advance if this series seems to be full of negatives rather than positives, but I can't emphasise enough how important it is to give careful consideration to these 'rules' before promoting your book - because these marketing mistakes can cost you a LOT more than the sale of a book.
Rule # 2 - Asking your friends and family to review your book
When you're just starting out on your writing career, reviews are very hard to come by and as precious as gold. It's tempting to ask everyone you know to review your book, but before you do, please stop, take a deep breath, and read this post!
As I showed in last week's post, not everyone in your email contacts list is likely to be an enthusiastic supporter of your books. Even more so, not everyone in your circle of family and friends is likely to be your target market.
Sure, your closest friends and family might buy your book as a gesture of support (but don't expect them to - many won't!)
Not convinced? Have a look at this article from author Tom McAllister on the kind of support you can expect from friends and family.
Those rare friends and family who do buy your book might even read it - but just because they read it, doesn't mean they should review your book.
If your nice aunt is already an enthusiastic reader of your genre, and has offered to read your book, then by all means go ahead and ask her to leave a review. But don't put an obligation on anyone who isn't a regular reader, and specifically a reader in your genre.
Why not? For two reasons.
Reason #1: readers aren't stupid. They can tell when a review was written by someone close to the author rather than by a genuine reader, and it makes the author look desperate rather than making the book look like an attractive buy.
The clues to a review written by someone obligated to by the author rather than a reader include: a five star rating, the words "I don't usually read books like this", vague comments that suggest the reviewer isn't a big reader, use of the author's real name or first name, and a comment directly addressed to the author.
Example 1: Review of The Novel by J.P. Soap (5 Stars)
"I don't usually read crime novels, but I really enjoyed Joe's book. The detective seemed like a very real person. I look forward to your next book, Joe."
Example #2: Review of The Novel by J.P. Soap (3 Stars)
"I enjoyed the mystery element of the book and the bevy of interesting characters. The book was fairly predictable – I knew early on which crime was going to start and then be prevented to solve the spate of murders, but that was OK. It took me a while longer to figure out who the murderer was and my heart was racing during some of the sequences – the pacing is excellent."
Okay, maybe that first example was a little extreme, but which review makes you think 'ag, shame, poor author couldn't get anyone else to read the book' or does it make you think 'wow - that sounds like a book I want to read!' Which would you prefer potential buyers to think about your book?
Reason #2: Amazon is onto this. The biggest of all online retailers has very strict review policies, and they are very quick to remove reviews that contravene their policies. Those policies are designed to ensure that reviews work for potential buyers, not for authors, and any review that smacks of author manipulation will be removed.
Amazon also has an incredibly wide reach. Their algorithms have the power to detect connections between people. If you are connected with your reviewer on Facebook, they can sniff out the connection, will figure out that you know each other, and bang! That lovely 5 star review from your nice aunt is gone for good.
What's the point in getting a whole bunch of reviews from your nearest and dearest (and using up your favours with them) if Amazon is going to delete them?
So how do you get reviews? That's a whole other blog post, and you'll just have to subscribe to my newsletter to be kept updated when I post it...
Check back here next week for Rule #3 of Book Marketing Etiquette.