Yes you can! PROMOTE a book without a single review
In spite of what you hear and read on author blogs, Linkedin, on Facebook pages, author forums, and chat rooms, you darn sure can promote your book without a review. How such toxic information managed to find such a poisonous and penetrating life in our indie author universe is beyond me. I am weary of listening to it and I’d like to put it to bed. Here is the single complaint that plagues me the most:
How many times have you heard this: “Without reviews, the best promotion sites won’t take my book.”
That is so not true. Many of the best [and worst promotion] sites have a slot for New Releases. You have to P.A.Y. for those slots. It is a fact that some sites have a minimum review requirement with a minimum review ranking. For the best sites with the greater reach, that review rank is often 4.0/5.0. If you don’t invest in your book, why should a promoter or a reader? Here is why promoters have those restrictions: Their subscribers are looking for entertainment, NOT to beta read our indie books and offer critiques in reviews. I don’t blame them. I know when I download a new release, I am taking risk on that author/book. But the rest of the time when I download a book on promotion free or priced, I want a book I can read and enjoy without having to plow through formatting mishaps, ill-composed content, gaps in the plot, or 23 adverbs and exclamation points in the first two pages of text. I don’t beta read! I read fiction for pleasure. It is a treat. So do newsletter subscribers.
However, an indie author can promote on many sites without a review restriction. I recently purchased promotion for a new release, No Perfect Fate on 25 sites. No Perfect Fate had Z.E.R.O. reviews. In the comment box on most of those sites I mentioned to the promoter No Perfect Fate had been professionally edited, formatted and covered. If you cannot put that in the comment box, you may be at a disadvantage. Ed Crotty of OHFB
accepted No Perfect Fate for promotion on FREE, as well as EReader News Today and Booksends and Fussy Librarian–four top promo sites. Goodread’s ads do not have a review restriction. Kindle Nation Daily does not have a review restriction. 29.99 for the ad. That is just for starters. Notice the author has to pay for book promotion.
Some sites consider a title newly released up to 90 days, others only 30. That is enough time to get your ducks in order. If an indie author misses the deadline for a new release slot, that is on the author. NOT the promoter.
So! What is it really all about?
I suspect those indie author complaints are not about promo sites, but all about reviews. Say the word: R.E.V.I.E.W. and you somehow ignite an indie author psychic explosion. It reaches all the way into the old brain which is all about survival and instant reaction. Complaining of having few or zero reviews is a wonderful and engaging excuse NOT to promote a book. Perhaps the motivating factor is no promotion budget. I get it. Rent and groceries come first. You have to get creative. Did you know you can run a RaffleCopter from your blog for under $10 to hype your book? Yep. Hire Book Partners in Crime Promotions. Margaret or Darlene will do the entire set up. All you have to do is NOTHING until the RaffleCopter is closed, a winner or two is picked for the book giveaway. And your book does not have to have a single review. How about that?
Here is a primary hidden never-to-be-revealed fear factor: “Suppose I promote the heck out of my book, 5,000 readers download it, and nobody likes it?”
Guess what? That is the chance and risk every indie author takes. You are not alone. What do you do? You rise to the challenge. IMO, I when I write 75,000 words into a book, one word after another, I’m going to put it in the public domain come hell, high water, or the devil knocking my door. I hire an editor. I hire a formatter. I hire a cover artist. Honey, I made the supreme sacrifice: I gave up Bingo for three solid months to pay for those services. I didn’t go out to eat or to the movies. I skipped Starbucks. If readers don’t like it, I’m gonna suck it up and WRITE ANOTHER BOOK.
What happens when you promote a title with no reviews. Well, if you put this gentle golden gem after THE END, reviews will start ticking in. Yes they will. Here it is:
Thank you for taking time to read [title]. If you enjoyed it, please consider telling your friends or posting a short review. Word of mouth is an author’s best friend and much appreciated. Thank you.
Now, if a title ends up with 100 reviews and forty of those reviews are one and two star, the book is in a world of hurt. I will venture all of the good luck pennies I save in my kitchen during Leap Year, that an indie author who faces that situation knows the book was not ready for publication in the first place. But, golly, in every social engagement when asked, “What line of work are you in?” the author can say, “I’m a writer.” … “Really? Are you published?” … “Yes, I am.” Next the published author can join writer’s groups, compose blogs, interview other authors, and produce another book or two. Yet the hand-wringing mantra does not change: “My books don’t sell because they don’t have enough reviews to get on the best promo sites.”
Next we find the author begging reviews on Twitter and and Facebook. And if by some wonderful chance an author gathers a review, he hugs it. It gets touted all over Facebook and blogs. It is Tweeted. The author seldom stops the cycle to promote and sell the book. IMO, if that is what makes an author happy, Go For It. But do stop spreading toxic misinformation.
The nice thing about social environments is nobody ever asks, “Does it sell?” Not only that, you can travel from one writer group to the next and Facebook page to Facebook page with the poor-mouth threnody that you can’t promote your book because it doesn’t have enough reviews. That is playing it so safe, you never will get up to bat. What it boils down to is a toxic comfort zone. You cannot talk an author out of it. Nobody can.
On the off chance that you are willing to work to slog through sites to find those that will accept a title without a review, here are several links to a raft of promotion sites on which we can submit our books with and without reviews.
Rachelle Ayala posts a really nice list of promo sites Here.
Indies Unlimited offers Martin Crosbie’s Best promo sites Here.
Here’s an idea. If your book happens to be in Amazon KDP Select, you can schedule FREE days. There are a wealth of sites that will mention your title for FREE. No charge. One of my all time favorites is a Facebook page, the Ebook Korner Kafé Another favorite is Masquerade Crew 99¢.
Producing a book is not easy. Selling it is W.O.R.K. I read about creative ways we can market our books every day. Some ideas work for me, some don’t. But, early on, before I learned the ropes and how our indie industry worked, I believed every single word about needing reviews to promote my titles. I engaged in book and review trades twice. That experience remains the worst in my short indie author career. I will NEVER do it again. Recall of that experience prompted me to promote a new release without a single review. About 18,000 readers downloaded the title on FREE and have started posting reviews on Amazon. That gentle golden plea for reviews after THE END on my titles has prompted readers to post over 960 reviews in a year and a month. Not all are four and five star reviews. My books won’t please every reader in our expanded market place. I know it and I don’t expect them to. However, whether a five star or a two star, I appreciate the reader taking time out of his or her busy life to log onto Amazon and post it.
Comments are always welcome. If you have a creative or inexpensive way to promote your books, share. The single thing I have learned about indie authors is that when we network and share our ideas, we help pave a path to success for all of us. Small success are just as important and effective as large.
Don’t forget! Save all of your pennies in your kitchen for good health and great good luck all year. If nothing grand has happened by January 1, 2016… just haul those pennies to the bank! Works for me. Y’all have a good one.
I’m Jackie Weger