Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Review Me! - How Reviewing Works & The Power of Word of Mouth

I consider myself to be relatively new to the world of self-promotion and public relations. Honestly, it's not one of my strong suits. I'm a little traditional that way.

Let me give you an example - on my paintings, I don't sign the front. It pisses some people off and just upsets others. But there is a reason - I just want the painting to speak for itself. It shouldn't matter who painted the thing, at least, philosophically it shouldn't. But of course, it does. People buy based on emotional responses. They act on emotional responses. They form associations and associate other things with esoteric connotations that someone else may not be able to begin to unravel because of a lack of shared experience. So what does that mean?

It means, there's no accounting for taste, because taste is a multi-faceted thing. Social interaction and connection is just as important as individual preferences. Let me give you another example. When I first started talking about writing my book, people were hesitant to support me. Then, when they found out I finished it they rushed to support me. However support comes in many different forms. Just buying a book from a favorite writer isn't enough to support them. Now, the most important reviews are on the websites where ebooks are bought and sold - coming from the fans themselves. Some websites and blogs focus on reviewing particular genres and their influence can be felt when they have a large readership themselves. As these reviews become more and more important, traditional reviewers, like those for the LA Times, become less and less so.

So, the reviewer has also gone the way of the publisher. Yes, there are some big names and big guns in the business, but by and large, the success of many books is in the hands of the average reviewer and the small but loyal cult reviewer site.

The question now is, how does an author get their book reviewed? Well there are a couple of ways it can be done. There is the dumb luck route, which means someone stumbles across your book while browsing and decides on an impulse to buy it and review it. This if of course, is rare, especially when you're an unknown author who self-published.

The second way is you solicit reviews from your fans by contacting them directly, or asking through social media like Facebook and Twitter.

And of course, the final, and somewhat scary way, is to submit your work to a small review site with a loyal cult following, and hope they read and review your book. This is scary because, they might not like it. But, the reality is, even if they don't like your book, if they write about it, someone will be curious about it and read it. Everyone likes a train-wreck and bad press is better than no press when it comes to your book.

The key thing to remember is these things take time. They take a lot of time and energy to get the word out and then for the word to spread. Of course, the more you have out in the world to be discussed, the more likely it is that someone will want to discuss it. So, submit that short story to that little press. Submit a poem here or a poem there. The more there is of your work, the more there is to read, the more there is to review. You get the picture.

Personally, I have a lot of writing to do, so I'm going to get back to it. You should too.

P.S. Incidentally, if you are an author  and are interested in having someone review your book(I'm a big fan of fantasy, sci-fi, and young adult but I'm open), feel free to contact me on Twitter (@alexisdonkin) or Facebook. I would love to give you some press.

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