The #1 Secret to Getting Good Reviews

6a00d83452c37169e2014e8ab9b06e970dThe key to getting good reviews seems simple—write a good book. Not!

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Not even accomplishing that great feat will ensure good reviews from the reading public. We’ve all heard the old adage, “Everybody’s a critic,” and we’ve all heard it because it’s true. People are eager to give you their opinions, whether you want to hear them or not.

The primary key to getting positive opinions/reviews is to get your book to the right people…and keep the wrong people far, far away. The ‘right’ people are those who have a good chance of actually liking your book. The ‘wrong’ people are everyone else. Logical! But how do you do this?

The secret to separating these two groups lies in your advertising. Following an eye-catching cover design, the next thing a potential reader will look at is your synopsis. If you wrote an action-packed high-tech spy novel that would appeal primarily to men, don’t try to broaden your audience by pushing the minor love story subplot. You’ll be alienating the ‘right’ people and tempting the ‘wrong’ people. The men may choose to forego the book if they think it’s a mushy love story, and the women expecting a romance novel will undoubtedly be disappointed by the action-filled storyline. They will tell you so in their one-star reviews. If you’re selling a smoking hot erotic adventure, make sure you let your potential readers know what they are in for. If they purchase the book expecting a timeless romance, they are going to leave dismal reviews about your “filthy piece of trash.”

Be truthful. There is a market for every book, so don’t advertise your book to be something it’s not. If it’s a boring drama, say so. I love boring dramas and would buy it and probably give it a great review.

Craft your synopsis as carefully as you create your cover.

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Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day.

Step-by-step Instructions for a Facebook Release Party

imagesBook launch coming? Awesome! How about a virtual release party on Facebook?

If you’ve never attended an online event, they are a lot of fun. This blog will explain step-by-step how to set up a book release party on Facebook.

BEFORE THE EVENT

1) Decide on your budget – you have to give away prizes, swag, books, gift cards, and don’t forget to include postage for anything you have to mail.

2) Choose a date (that’s not a holiday or major sporting event) and a two-hour block of time for your event. When you promote it, don’t forget to add the time zone (example: 7-9pm Eastern). Monday and Thursday nights usually work pretty well.

3) Decide if you’re going to give away your book. The whole reason for the party is to sell your book, so giving it away seems a little counter-productive. Perhaps you could give only one copy away in the grand prize.

 facebook-eventSETTING UP THE EVENT

Go to Facebook and “Create an Event.” On the left side of your Facebook newsfeed page is a button called “Create Event.” Click on it and when the pop-up box appears, look at the top and make sure it is set to “public event.” You cannot change it later.

Add the date and time. Under “Where” state clearly that the event will take place “Right here on this page!” People get confused when they’re invited to a party and it’s actually taking place online. You can’t emphasize enough that the party is “RIGHT HERE ON THIS PAGE!!!”

Once you have the event page, you can upload a picture for the top banner.

Now, invite all of your Facebook friends. Some people will not respond to the invitation because they just don’t see it, so copy the link at the top of the event page and post it on your Facebook page. You will have to do this a few time and more frequently as the date approaches. Promote the event everywhere. Your blog and Twitter followers can also attend. Post the page link anywhere you want.

NOW, IT’S TIME TO PUT TOGETHER A GREAT PARTY!

We will use the above example of 7-9pm Eastern to explain the exact details. The party moves amazingly fast, so write a script in Word so you can copy and paste it onto Facebook at the exact times you want to. You’ll also want to take photos of your prizes and anything else you want to show. Have them ready to go on your computer to upload. Make your party questions things that everyone can participate in. Your script will look something like this:

7:01 Hi, everyone! Thank you for coming to the GREEN EGGS AND HAM Release Party. We are going to have a lot of fun and give away some great prizes, including the grand prize of a swag bag, a signed copy of GREEN EGGS AND HAM, and a $25 Amazon Gift Card. We will get started in a moment.

7:05 Hi to everyone who just joined us! Thanks for coming. If you have any question about GREEN EGGS AND HAM or about writing in general, fire away. I’ll answer questions as they’re posted. Now, let’s get started…

7:06 Question #1 for Prize #1 – a swag bag and a lovely green ceramic egg. A winner will be chosen from the comments at 7:20. — In GREEN EGGS AND HAM, Sam I Am had a name that rhymed. If your name rhymed, what would it be?

7:10 (post photo of the ceramic egg) Here’s the green ceramic egg we’re giving away right now.

7:15 (post photo of the book) Here’s the cover of my new book GREEN EGGS AND HAM.

7:20 Okay, comments are closed. One moment while we select a winner…

7:21 And the winner of Prize #1 is John Doe. Please send your mailing address to Sam@greeneggsandham.com. Congratulations!

7:24 Question #2 for Prize #2 – a swag bag and a $5 Amazon Gift Card. A winner will be chosen from the comments at 7:35. — In GREEN EGGS AND HAM, Sam didn’t like green eggs and ham until he tried them. What food did you not like until you tried it?

7:28 (post picture of prize #2)

7:31 (post picture of something that inspired the story)

7:35 Okay, comments are closed. One moment while we select the winner….

Question #3, picture of prize #3, picture of something else, close comments, announce winner, Question #4, picture of prize #4, repeat and so on and so forth.

Give away prizes at 7:20, 7:35, 7:50, 8:05, 8:20, 8:35, and 8:50. The 8:58 grand prize should be offered to all attendees and chosen from all comments.

In total, you will need seven questions and eight prizes, because the grand prize doesn’t require a question. You will also need eight pictures of prizes and probably eight pictures of your cover or inspiration to fill the time. If you correspond the question # and the prize picture, you’ll be able to upload pictures quickly. Question #1 goes with prize picture #1, etc. Trust me, you won’t have time to look for it.

329238-hints-and-tipsA FEW HINTS

Before you sit down for the event, get yourself something to drink and have a good clock nearby to keep an eye on the time. It’s good to have a friend stay with you. They can pick the winners for you, help keep an eye on time, and they can run and refill your coffee cup. You’re going to be too busy to move for two hours!

The day of the event, repeatedly post the link on your Facebook page like a countdown. Post in the morning, again at mid-day, 2 hours before, 1 hour before, 30 minutes before, 5 minutes before. (If you have multiple pages, post on all of them. Also post on Twitter, your blog, your website, everywhere.)

Ask questions revolving around your book that anyone can answer, relating a little about the story or characters, but not confusing people, because they more than likely have not read the book yet.

If you see someone come in midway through the party, comment “If you’re just joining us, we’re on Question #4. Please jump in.” Some of your author friends may stop in for a few minutes to support you. Don’t be surprised if they don’t participate. They don’t want to steal your thunder. If you have time, say hi to them publicly, telling your friends, family, and readers that Jane Doe, author of XYZ, is in the room. The general public loves to know that we’re friends with other authors.

Post photos about things that are relate to the prize or the book. If your book takes place in a castle or on a beach, post a photo that “inspired” the location. If your book takes place in a certain time in history, post a photo of that era. One or two photos between questions is plenty. The last half hour, you’ll be commenting and answering questions, so you probably won’t need the photos, but they’re good to have on hand if you do need them to fill time.

Respond to funny comments. Like EVERY comment. Even a smiley face lets everyone know you’re paying attention to them.

About 8:30, your crowd will get a little quiet as two hours is a long time to pay attention. This is the perfect time to advertise a second chance at a $25 Amazon Gift Card by going to your website and signing up for your newsletter, or mention what is happening on your book tour tomorrow, or where you’ll be signing books next week. You have a captive audience. Use it.

ONE MINOR ISSUE:

On Facebook, the last comment on any particular post sends that post to the top of the page, so wait for a couple minutes for everyone to say congratulations to the last winner before posting the next question. You don’t want your next question to get lost in the shuffle. Make it clear what you are posting. Example: “Question #3:” or “The Winner of Question #4 is:”

CLOSING:

After the final question, post “We have a few more minutes to answer questions, and at 8:58 we’ll announce the grand prize winner.” Your crowd will again come to life after the last question, and answering their questions becomes a free-for-all. Be warned, their questions will be very few at first, but will snowball toward the end.

An easy way to answer questions it to copy the person’s name and question, add the word “asked” after their name, and create a new post so everyone can see it. Example: Bob Jones Why are the eggs green? – Make it: Bob Jones asked Why are the eggs green? ANSWER: You’ll have to read the book and find out.

At 8:59, thank everyone for coming and POST A LINK to where they can buy GREEN EGGS AND HAM. Have this link ready in your Word document so you can copy and paste it. You don’t want your guests to leave before you’ve posted it.

At 9:00, re-invite them to the book signing or webpage that you told them about earlier. Post link to website or location.

downloadIT’S OVER! Now what?

Go back to your Facebook, Twitter, blog announcements where you invited people and add a comment: “If you didn’t make the Book Release Party, you can still click on the link and see all the fun we had. The posts will be out of order, as the last one to get a comment automatically moves to the top, but visit anyway!”

Post-promote on Twitter, Facebook, your website, etc., telling everyone what fun you had and invite them to check it out. You’ll still get likes and comments for a few days.

Mail your prizes! WHEW!!

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Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day.

Build Your Twitter Following in 6 Easy Steps

twitter-birdsBuilding your Twitter following is easy as pie, but it does take consistency.

So, you’ve started a Twitter account and wonder what to do next? How do you make friends, grow your audience, build your following? Sometimes Twitter feels like being in a room with everyone screaming at the same time, but you can wade through the chaos with a few simple steps.

1. Decide what your interest is. I imagine it’s writing or you wouldn’t be on this blog reading this. So, in the search box, type in something specific, say “indie authors” or “civil war” or “sparkley vampires.” This will pull up only people and comments that contain that specific phrase.

2. Click on the names of the people who interest you. If they have about the same number of followers as following, they are likely to follow you back. If you want to grow your followers, those are the people to follow. People who have 50k followers but only follow 18 people are not likely to follow you back. If you are interested in their Tweets, follow away, but if you’re trying to grow your following, don’t waste your time or your finite following limit (more on this below).

3. Do this 10 minutes per day. Click on people you’re interested in for all the topics you put in the search box. Do it religiously. Set your alarm. 10 minutes is all it takes. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your following grows after a few weeks.

4. Use advertising finesse! Only advertise your product every so often, maybe one-out-of-every-ten-Tweets. Use the other 9 Tweets to make friends, share information, build a rapport. After all, it is SOCIAL media.

5. Put yourself on a schedule. Cultivate your followers for 10 minutes per day. Tweet twice per day. Respond or comment on other Tweets twice per day. Re-Tweet other’s Tweets twice per day. If you’re doing the math, that’s 6 Tweets. That means tomorrow, you’ll hit your one-out-of-ten-Tweets advertising point and  you can post a link to your book or your review. Don’t forget to add hashtags so it gets retweeted. Click HERE for a big list of hashtags for writers.

6. Connect your Twitter account to your blog. When you post a blog, this will automatically Tweet for you and that’s one less Tweet you have to do today.

Check out CrowdFire. It holds all the magic buttons to see who is following you back and who is not.

Pre-schedule your tweets at Twuffer! If you’re busy or out of town, this can keep your account active for you.

Let the computer re-tweet for you at RoundTeam. You can choose up to three hashtags to retweet.

One note about the number of followers you can have. Twitter has a magic 2000 following limit at the beginning. When you try to follow #2001, you’ll get a pop-up from Twitter telling you that you’ve reached the maximum number of people you can follow. It’s a percentage thing. Once you reach 1819 followers, that 2000 number will begin to increase. As a matter of fact, the number over 2000 you can follow is 10% of your followers. So if you have 1900 followers, you get an increase of 190, so you can follow 2190 people.

Take your time. Work at it a little every day. When you Tweet about your new book and it gets re-Tweeted by 28 people to 800,000 people, it’s worth it. Happy Tweeting!

 

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Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day.

5 Ways to Market Your New Book Without Social Media

I.Heart.Marketing5 Ways to Market Your New Book Without Social Media

Congratulation on your new book! After months and months (sometimes years and years), you’ve released your baby into the great wide unknown. It’s like sending your four-year-old off to preschool, isn’t it? Well, pat yourself on the back and breathe a big, heavy sigh of relief. Done?

Okay, now the REAL work begins.

Carefully remove your author hat and replace it with your marketing hat. Nobody cares more about your book than you do, and even though it is undoubtedly the most brilliant work of literature to ever hit the globe, no one will know about it unless you tell them.

I’m sure you already have a blog, a Twitter account, a Facebook page, a website, among others. You are the king/queen of social media and all your friends and family already know about your book. What do you do now?

images 1) Write a press release. Google “Press Release” for formats to write your very own release. In general, write it in third person, like you’re delivering a news report. Capture your audience in your first sentence. “Local Man Hits Home Run with First Novel About Baseball.” Your release should tell Why, Where, Who, What, and How. “John Doe of Detroit, Michigan released his first novel, “Baseball,” to rave reviews.” Continue with reasons why anyone should be interested in this. If you can, include what other important people have to say about it. Keep it to 500 words or less. Finish with where the reader can buy it, where you’re speaking next week, and conclude with your contact information. The last thing to type is ###, which ends the release. Have someone proofread it for you!!! Step one: Google your local newspapers and magazines and send it to the editors. Step two: Find magazines and trade journals that deal in your topic and send it to them. Step three: Don’t neglect big bloggers. Find ones that are in your genre. (You can set up a Google Alert and will be notified by email if your topic appears anywhere on the Internet. Then you can see if your press release was ever actually released by the people you sent it to. Google “Setting up a Google Alert” to find out how to do this.) Finally, Step four: Send it to iReach at PR Newswire. It will cost between $129-$399, depending on who you want it to be available to. It is not cheap, and there are no guarantees, but if someone picks it up, you’re in!

Entry1_51_PageImage2) Direct Mail Marketing. Mail a postcard or a bookmark. You can buy occupant lists (Google “mailing list”) in a specific area, but if you’re not going to use it over and over, it is pretty expensive. You’d be better off finding lists of people who belong to groups that may be interested in your topic. Decide, based on your book, if you want to mail only to women or Harley riders or baseball fans. Yes, stamps are expensive, but if your postcard is attractive, you should see a healthy return on your investment. Generally, about 2-3 of 100 recipients will act on a postcard offer, so do the math before you invest in the stamps. If you’d like to hit every house in a city, Google “direct mail companies” and find one around you. They will print the postcards and mail them, so you have to do nothing!

newsletter3) Newsletter. If you have a list of email addresses, you can set up a FREE email newsletter on Mailchimp. If your newsletter is going out to less than 2,000 recipients, it’s free. Remember, any unsolicited mail is spam, so you might want to mention in your newsletter that you’ve personally included your family and friends in the mailing and they can unsubscribe if they choose to do so. Note: Only about half of your list will actually open the newsletter. The others end up in their spam folder.

4) Personal Appearances. If your book is specialized, you can visit places that are related to your specialty. If your book is about baseball, try the local Little League fundraiser. If it’s about animals, try the local shelter. If it’s about history, try a historical site. If it’s a cookbook, try the local grocery store. If your book is general fiction, try your local book club or library. Towns love local writers. Don’t stop with the town you currently live in. Try the town you grew up in and/or the town your book takes place in. You can introduce yourself with a professional brochure. Make one at Vista Print.

images (1)5) If you have a travel budget and vacation time from work, try Trade Shows. There are numerous book festivals and trade shows in every state, every year. And don’t forget summer festivals. If your book takes place at a certain time in history, try the historical festivals – Civil War Musters, Renaissance Festivals, the list is endless. Use those previously made brochures to introduce yourself, and you might want to get some posters made to hang at trade shows. Vista Print makes posters, also.

Write down a list of anyone and everyone who might be interested in your topic, genre, era, and get busy finding ways to let them know about your book. Keep in mind, you have to tell someone to buy something three times before they actually buy it. Tell them you’re going to tell them, then tell them you’re telling them, then tell them you told them. Mail a brochure, stop by to chat, call them to follow up.

 

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Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day.