Selling My Books: Deborah Jay’s Top Tip for Book Promotion

Every Writers’ Wednesday, a successful self-published author shares a favourite book promotion tip here on Debbie Young’s Off The Shelf blog

Head and shoulders of Deborah JayMy first encounter with novelist Deborah Jay was on Twitter, and I subsequently discovered that she also writes non-fiction equestrian books under the name Debby Lush – so she has plenty of experience to draw on for today’s top tip – something easy to apply, whatever genre you write in. 

Debbie Young: What’s your favourite book promotion tip? It doesn’t need to be the one that sells the most books – it could just be the one you most enjoy.

Deborah Jay: My favourite is a simple piece of passive marketing: adding the most effective back matter to each of your books. In other words, it’s what you add at the end of your book AFTER you’ve typed ‘The End’.

Debbie Young: How do you do it? Please give brief instructions.

Kindle screen with note from author Deborah Jay: Ideally, the first thing a reader should see, following the end of the book proper, is a brief ‘thank you’ note from the author, with a request to leave a review. Something along the lines of:

“Thank you so much for spending your time reading my words. If you liked what you read, would you please leave a short review on the site where you purchased it? Just a few lines would be great. Reviews are not only the highest compliment you can pay to an author, they also help other readers discover and make more informed choices about purchasing books in a crowded space. Thank you!”

If you tailor your ebook individually for a specific retailer, you can even insert a direct link to where you want your reader to leave a review.

Following this, add contact information (again, using direct links) for your website and social media sites, details (cover and blurb) of your other available books, and an author bio – many readers like to know more about their favourite authors and where they can find them on the web.

About the author pageFinally, if this book is part of a series, you might also include the first chapter of the next book – a great way to get readers to go and buy the next book immediately.

You can play around with the order of these items, but the review request should always be right up there in a prominent position.

Debbie Young: Why do you particularly enjoy this activity?

Deborah Jay: I’m a big fan of passive marketing, because it doesn’t take up too much time! Once you’ve written your back matter for one book, most of the wording can just be added to each subsequent release with little change. Admittedly you need to update each book, every time you publish a new one, (by adding cover and blurb of each new release) but that’s minimal time input compared to many marketing efforts.

Debbie Young: Which book(s) have you used it for and when?

Kindle screen showing about the next book detailsDeborah Jay: Every book and all the time! That’s the joy of passive marketing, and I know that many of my reviews have come about as a result of adding this simple, polite request.

Debbie Young: If you were doing it again for another book tomorrow, would you do it any differently?

Deborah Jay: Not now. I have refined what I add over a few versions, changing author photos and cover pictures to look better in print books as well as ebooks, and I’ve learned not to mention Amazon in a version that is going to Apple, as they simply refuse to publish if you name the competition!

Debbie Young: Which part of the book promotion process do you like least?

Deborah Jay Like everyone, I think – the amount of time it eats up.

Debbie Young: Can you name one promotional activity that you’d like to try that you haven’t tried yet – or tried but not yet perfected?

Deborah Jay: I’m currently trying to understand a bit more about how Pinterest works as a marketing tool. I enjoy making boards and sharing pictures, I’m just clueless so far as to how to use it.

Debbie Young: Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers now? e.g. news of your next book or event.

Deborah Jay: I’m in the middle of writing the second book in my epic fantasy series, so no immediate release news, but I’ve just added a newsletter sign up page to my website so that I can keep eager readers up to speed. I love to meet new authors and readers on my blog, which comprises a mix of book spotlights, blog tours and reviews in my genres (fantasy and SF) with occasional informative posts on indie publishing subjects. All visitors welcome!

Debbie Young: Thanks so much for taking part today. Lots of luck with your new book!

SPECIAL OFFER: This weekend (21st-22nd June 2014), Deborah Jay’s novel The Prince’s Man is just 99p on Amazon! It’s been described as “James Bond meets Lord of the Rings” – what’s not to love about that? Hop over here to snap it up.


6 Great Reasons To Keep Posting Online Book Reviews

Engraving of a Reader

(Image by Wikipedia)

To my mind, one of the greatest strengths of websites such as Amazon and GoodReads is that they allow readers (and writers) to post book reviews for all to see. Much as  I love bricks-and-mortar bookshops, I’ve never seen one yet which can do this on the same scale. (Though I DO love Waterstones‘ idea of displaying their staff’s views on books they’ve read.)

I therefore find the current “sockpuppet” controversy irritating. Haven’t we all known all along that some reviewers are unscrupulous, biased and driven by their own agenda? They are pretty easy to spot and the intelligent person ignores them and moves on.

Whatever you do, don’t let it put you off posting your reviews of books you’ve read, because, counter-intuitive as it may seem, reviewing other writers’ books is a great way of promoting your own books. It also helps you hone your own writing abilities.

Here are six sound reasons why you, as a writer, should post online book reviews:

1) Composing a formal book review is a great way of harnessing your thoughts about what works and doesn’t work in books that you have read. Building your critical faculties in this way makes you a more effective writer and editor of your own books.

2) Reviewing books in the genre in which you write, ending with a signature linking back to your own author website, raises your profile before previously unknown readers who will by definition be interested in your kind of book.

3) Reading other authors’ review pages gives you insight into how they manage their public image. Examining how they present themselves on Amazon will give you new ideas for how you manage your own publicity. They’re missing a trick if they haven’t set up their own author page on Amazon Central  and linked it back to their own author website – as are you.

4) It  helps you build a thicker skin for when you are on the receiving end of book reviews. Reading one-star reviews for books that you love will make you realise that even the best authors get slated by some readers, through no fault of their own. It’s common for someone to condemn a book because they hadn’t read the blurb properly when they ordered it, and so it turned out not to be what they were expecting or wanting to read. And of course some of reviewers are clearly just plain bonkers – or have other issues that make them enjoy complaining. (If you check out other one-star reviewers’ reviews,  you’ll often find they are negative about everything they read.)

5) It’s a great way of  encouraging other indie writers in your social network, and doubtless they will want to do the same for you. I’m not suggesting for a moment that you should post dishonest reviews full of false praise –  but you might want to keep your criticism constructive and diplomatic. And if you have something really negative to say, always consider whether online is the right place to say it. For example, if you’ve just read an e-book peppered with typos, it would be far kinder to send the author a private email, giving them the opportunity to correct their mistakes without public embarrassment. Call me old-fashioned, but “do as you would be done by” is one of my mantras.

6) Reading and writing reviews is not only entertaining. It’s also a great stimulus to your imagination. As a writer, you find yourself fleshing out the character of the people who have written the reviews, following interactions and conversations, and before you know it, you have the starting point for a novel or short story – or even a murder mystery! (If you write one, do let me know – I’d love to read it!)

So keep calm and carry on reviewing. It’s good for you as an author, it’s good for promoting your book, and it’s good for the industry as a whole. As far as I’m concerned, those grumpy people out to devalue this fabulous arena can jolly well put a sock(puppet) in it.

Further Reading

An  interesting and balanced piece from The Daily Telegraph (that’s something I don’t say very often!)

Great overview from Nick Harkaway via The Bookseller