Friday, March 30, 2012

Amazon Categories and how to become a Bestseller

Bestselling AuthorBestselling Novel … sounds good doesn’t it? A few weeks ago, I posted about reviews and their impact on ratings and readers. You can see that post here. Today, I want to discuss the elusive BESTSELLER.

This article was originally posted in Indies Unlimited a few weeks ago. Since then, several authors have followed these steps and created a bestseller for themselves in the matter of days. 

When you have achieved bestseller status, it is yours for life. No one can take it away. Conveniently, Amazon changes the rankings hourly. Now, many of you might look at that as a negative but all you need is for your book to hit #1 just one time, and even if it drops out after an hour, you’ve just achieved “bestseller” status.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Feedback on the ABNA from a fan!

I had to share this comment from a fan of The Card which appeared on in response to my last blog post on the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. You can see the original post that she was referring to at this link.

Pasted directly from Goodreads 
... by Moira:
I did not find myself distracted by cliches, and I definitely didn't find the characters to be stereotypes, so in that sense I disagree with the reviewers. I think you may have been hindered by the fact that they only read an excerpt, because I think the character development, particularly Van's discovery of his own internal strength, is the strongest aspect of the book, though it may be more subtle. Regardless of the outcome, congrats on your strong reviews and the consideration for this award, not too shabby for your first book! I am really looking forward to the sequel! 

With fans like these, who needs contests? Thanks so much for your feedback Moira.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarterfinals

My run in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award is over. Am I disappointed? Not really. I knew going in that the judging criteria for this part was my weakest link. 

The “Excerpt” portion was limited to just 5,000 words and with The Card that included the development of the characters for an ongoing series. No excuses, it should have—and could have—been better. I went into this with eyes-wide-open knowing that I should have done a better job with this portion. I was hopeful that I might squeak by, but alas, it didn’t happen. 

 “Amazon Expert Reviewers” conducted the judging, which included one Amazon editor and one Amazon “Expert” reviewer. The Amazon “Expert” Reviewer is a status achieved by writing reviews for books listed on Amazon. 

After reading the reviews, I was:

1) Really encouraged at the response

2) Wondering what it took to get into the quarterfinals.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Card in the King County Library!

Thanks to David Whiteley, four copies of The Card are now available at the King County Library! Check out this picture from Whiteley.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Card at Cover Art Review

The cover art for The Card is posted for reviews and comments at the site, Cover Art Review

Head over there to give your input on the work that Melissa Garcia-Devitt and Marsha Rollinger did in creating the first Van Stone Novel look.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Have Others Promote Your Book - How to Get Reviews

Reviews are more important than just getting feedback about your book. It’s common knowledge that Amazon figures reviews in their ranking system. So the more reviews you have, the better ranked your book could be.

Please stay with me until the end of the post where I’ll divulge a super million dollar secret for book promotions (I’m not selling anything, just in case this sounded like an infomercial.) Okay, maybe not a million dollars, but it sure helps.

Reviews are one of the best methods to generate buzz about your book, without you being the one shouting from the rooftops. We’ve all spent countless conversations begging our friends and relatives to “post a review, please!” It’s frustrating and many times, a fruitless endeavor. So, how do we go about getting reviews?

First, let me say NEVER PAY FOR A REVIEW. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to shout. Countless entities out there can’t wait to take your money. Don’t go there. So, where do you go?

Book Blog Reviewers—your best friend in the world. Book Bloggers love to read books and make recommendations based on those books. Imagine reaching millions of readers. They are not paid to do this, they do it for fun, which leads to a timing drawback which I’ll address later. They can literally change the success of your book and put you in the fast lane.

Here’s how it works, once you’ve identified an appropriate book blogger, you look under “submission requirements” or “review policy” and find out what format they’ll take and what they are willing to review.
However, that doesn’t help us find them, does it? Here’s a little secret *looking side to side, whispering*

Bam, there ya go. Click on that baby and away you go; type in your category, and out pops thousands of book review sites that would be happy to review your genre. Follow these few steps and you’ll be on your way:

1. Research - take the time to find out that their site is interested in your type of novel. They will spell it out for you in the policy section.

2. Don’t mass email them. Pick out something of note in each site that you visit and comment on it in your email. They want to know that you really looked at their site and are interested in their opinion. Use their real name in the email, not the blog name.

3. Be patient - I alluded to this above. Some of the more prestigious ones that you run across may have a waiting list of months. Make sure you are okay with this before you go through the trouble of asking for a review. Most will spell this out in the “policy” section.

4. Be Polite - Don’t email them every week asking for your review. They’ll get to it and most will notify you when it’s posted. 
Many will post to Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads and B&N, not just on their blog site.

Here’s and example of an email that I wrote to a potential book blogger, feel free to copy it and use it for yourself:

Hi Chrystal,
I am so glad that I found your blog. I love what you are doing for the young adult population. It’s great to find someone that not only does blog reviews, but does so with a real passion for books. It is apparent that you love what you do. I have recently completed a first-in-a-series Young Adult mystery/suspense novel. I’ve included a brief summary and bio, and I would be honored if you would choose it for a review.
 Thank you for your interest,
Jim  (and then the synopsis and bio would follow which included a picture of the cover)

Once they agree to review, get them the book in whatever format they request. Of course, they do not promise a great review, just an honest review. I have had wonderful experiences with book bloggers and consider some of them friends now. Meanwhile, I’ve developed a database of outlets for when my next novel comes out.

If anyone would be interested, I would love to share my spreadsheet with you that is comprised of over 100 different YA blog reviewers. Please contact me in the comment section. One thing though, you will get it in the raw form, with all my notes and stuff.

Okay, now for the super secret thing I found. Here’s the million dollar take-away. Hopefully it’s new to you as well, otherwise, I’ll look like a fool. There’s this site…
This is a hidden treasure. Once you sign up, you can fill out a promotion where you specify exactly who you want to review your book, genre, age group, even left handed bloggers if you want. You can fine-tune it to the number of Twitter and Facebook followers the reviewer has and even specify an Alexa ranking. Once your “promotion” is approved, bloggers COME TO YOU to review your book. You can choose who you want to send it to and then you wait for your review, which you can specify when, one, two or three weeks out. It is a gold mine for getting reviews. I’ve just recently found out about this and have my first promotion under review by the staff, waiting of it to go live. Imagine having 50 blog reviewers contacting me to review my book. I know—Crazy!

Good luck with both methods of review generation. As in any type of promotion, it takes time. While you’re waiting for your reviews—KEEP WRITING!
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Jim Devitt is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited. The author of the #1 Kindle Bestselling novel, THE CARD, has recently moved on to the second round in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition. A version of this post appeared at Indies Unlimited on March 3, 2012