Author Media presents Novel Marketing the longest-running book marketing podcast in the world. This is the show for writers who want to build their platform, sell more books, and change the world with writing worth talking about.
Whether you self publish or are with a traditional house, this podcast will make book promotion fun and easy. Thomas Umstattd Jr. interviews, publishers, indie authors and bestselling traditional authors about how to get published and sell more books.
How to Get More Book Reviews With Derek Doepker
Imagine you’re walking down the street and seeing a restaurant with a huge crowd outside, straining to see and hear the live musicians inside. Across the street, you see a solo guitarist with a few coins in his open guitar case.
Which musical performance do you think is better? Most people would choose the performer with the audience.
Scientists have long studied this phenomenon called social proof. People want to do what they see other people doing.
They want to read what they see other people reading.
In a similar way, readers find out which books are popular by looking for social proof in the form of reviews. You’ve probably done it yourself. When you see one book with five reviews and another with 500, which do you lean toward?
But it’s not just readers who are looking for social proof.
Amazon also places books with more reviews higher in their search engine rankings. Reviews make securing a slot on promo sites like Book Bub easier. The Goodreads promotion engine only kicks in after a book has 300 reviews.
To paraphrase the Matthew Effect, we might say, “To him who has reviews, more reviews will be given. But to him who has no reviews, no reviews will be given.”
But how do you get those first book reviews that lead to more reviews?
I asked Derek Dopeker, who is an expert at getting book reviews.
He went from being a broke valet to a bestselling author and successful marketing strategist. He’s sold over 100,000 books using low-cost marketing strategies. Now he shares these strategies with fellow authors to help them to turn their passion for writing into a successful career.
How do you get more reviews for your book?
Derek: We can break it down into three main parts.
Find Ideal Readers
Connect with people who want to read a book like yours and are open to leaving a review.
Get Readers to Agree to Leave Reviews
You’ll have to reach out and ask people to review your book and get them to say, “Yes! I’ll leave a review.”
Get Readers to Write and Post Their Reviews
Often, readers promise to leave a review as part of an early reader team or launch team, but they just don’t follow through.
The weeks fly by, and you want to say, “Can you hurry up and leave that review?”
It feels awkward. You’re trying to nudge readers and follow up, but you feel like they’re doing you a favor, so you don’t want to twist their arm too much. By the same token, you need those reviews.
How do you get people to follow through?
As you might know, incentivizing people to leave a review goes against Amazon’s terms of service. For example, you can’t tell readers you’ll give them a prize or bonus if they leave a review. Besides being a violation of Amazon’s terms of service, you’d end up with biased reviews.
Ask Your Email Subscribers for Reviews
Thomas: The size of your email list correlates to the number of reviews you’ll get. Many of the tactics we’ll explore are dependent on the author being able to ask their readers for reviews in various ways.
To get more reviews,
Brandon Sanderson’s Crop Rotation Method for Restful Rapid Writing
The Middle Ages were rough for European farmers. They were trying to grow crops on fields that had been used for hundreds or even thousands of years. They knew farming “exhausted the field,” but they didn’t know why. As a result, nearly half of the fields had to be left fallow every year so they could rest.
Leaving half the fields fallow was terribly inefficient, and Europe had frequent famines as a result.
How fruitful is the field of your writing?
* Do you feel tired?
* Does your mind feel tired?
* Do you feel like a field that just can’t yield what it used to?
How can you prevent writer burnout?
If so, I have good news. Our ancestors made a discovery in the 1700s that massively increased crop yields, and the same method can work for your creative writing today.
In fact, prolific author Brandon Sanderson uses this method to outwrite and outsell his competitors.
If you want to write better and faster with a rested mind, you need a primer in crop rotation to prevent writer burnout.
Before discussing Sanderson’s crop rotation method, we must review the problem. Why did those European farm fields become exhausted?
To produce crops, soil needs three primary nutrients: potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus.
Cereal crops, like wheat and corn, are particularly hungry for nitrogen. If you plant wheat in the same field year after year, eventually, the ground will run out of nitrogen, and wheat won’t grow.
Pests and Weeds
Additionally, many critters like to eat wheat. Wheat-eating weevils and microbes will poison the crop. Every year the field is planted to wheat, more pests gather to devour and destroy the crop.
The Solution: Crop Rotation
Crop rotation can solve both problems with crop rotation.
Legumes like peas, beans, and peanuts don’t take nitrogen from the soil. They actually put nitrogen back in the soil. If you grow a nitrogen-fixing crop like beans for a year, the soil will have more nitrogen than in the year prior.
That’s right. A nitrogen-depleted field is more rested after a year of growing legumes than after a year of being left fallow. With some experimentation, 17th-century agriculturalists found the ideal rotation of crops called the Norfolk four-course rotation.
In Britain, farmers rotated crops in this order: legumes, cereals, root crops, and barley. The specific crops varied by region depending on soil and climate.
With this new system, a British farmer could grow twice as much food as his grandfather could grow on the same field. And that farmer’s grandson could grow twice again on the same land. This British Agricultural Revolution laid the groundwork for the Industrial Revolution, which was just around the corner.
When hands were freed from working fields, brains were freed to invent new machines.
Famines became a historic relic rather than an annual threat. Instead of experiencing famines, British schoolchildren studied them in school.
How to Build Hype for a Debut Novel
After you finish the final edits of your novel, it’s time to launch your book into the world. But how do you get readers so excited about your book that they can’t wait to buy it and tell their friends? How do you create hype for your novel?
Many first-time authors make the mistake of rushing to upload their books to Amazon and then kicking back, waiting for readers to flock to their books. But nothing magical happens when you upload your book to Amazon. In fact, nobody even knows it’s there unless you tell them.
I asked author C.J. Milacci how she got readers excited about her debut YA novel. C.J. writes stories for teens and young adults with heart-pounding action and hope. She is an active member of the Novel Marketing community and has participated in the Book Launch Blueprint as well as The Five-Year Plan.
Why did you start writing?
Thomas Umstattd, Jr.: How did you get started writing?
C.J. Milacci: I started writing because I was working with the youth ministry at my church and asking the girls about the books they were reading.
I started reading some of the titles they mentioned, and I could see why they liked them. The books were exciting. But inevitably, I’d feel depressed when I finished reading because they had such hard, dark endings. The books also included a lot of inappropriate content that I couldn’t believe a teen was reading. I felt it was so inappropriate that I could barely read it as an adult.
I was looking for a well-written, exciting, engaging alternative that would bring hope and Christian worldview values. I had a hard time finding that kind of book, so I decided to learn how to write one myself.
I wanted to thrill my young adults and teens with incredible stories woven with deeper truths and a good message without all the doom and gloom.
Thomas: I love that you started with your target reader and not with a story that was burning in your heart. You wanted to write the kind of book they already liked but one that wouldn’t leave them depressed.
Young women are more depressed now than they’ve ever been in recorded history.
Your aim is very noble, and from a marketing perspective, it’s very savvy. Writing for a specific reader with a particular need makes every other book marketing task easier because you know your reader.
C.J.: Half of the girls I was talking to were already depressed and struggling. As I read what they were reading, I knew those books were certainly not helping them feel better about life or the world. Those girls and their needs have definitely been the motivating factor for me from day one.
What did your writing process look like?
Thomas: What did your writing process look like?
C.J.: I started like many other writers. I wrote the first draft and thought I was done. Then, shortly after that, I came to the hard realization that the first draft was awful.
I love learning, so I started to read books on the craft of writing.
Whisper and the World Whispers Back
On Christmas Eve, I caught the flu.
I spent Christmas Day wrapped in a blanket, wracked with chills, and coughing intensely. Clutching a negative COVID test didn’t make me feel any better. Influenza didn’t care. It wants its championship belt back.
I’m slowly getting better.
I spent a week whispering like the Godfather before progressing to growling like Darth Vader.
As a podcaster, I talk a lot. So this time of silence has revealed some interesting insights about communication and book marketing.
#1 A Great Book Is Not Enough
When I can only whisper, my children can’t hear me tell them to be careful, even if they really need to hear my warning. It doesn’t matter how much they need to hear me. The only thing that matters is my ability to make myself heard.
The publishing world is like a house full of chattering toddlers. When readers don’t hear about your book, they don’t know about it and can’t read it, even if it’s really good.
But if the book is good enough, it will market itself, right?
You tell me.
Yesterday, roughly 1,000 new books were released. Which one was the best? A book listed on Amazon is like a phone number listed in the phone book. The phone will ring only if people search the phone book for that number.
And if you think that was an old-fashioned metaphor, just wait.
The word “platform” comes from a tool used in the 18th century by Great Awakening preachers to speak to audiences of tens of thousands without electronic amplification.
Platforms were elevated stages with slanted walls behind them. Acoustically, they directed the speaker’s voice toward the audience.
Here is an illustration from 1819 of what a wood platform looked like:
In these days of microphones and blogs, authors don’t build their platforms out of wood, but if they want to reach readers, they need to build their platforms out of something.
A wooden platform didn’t make the person speak louder. It simply directed his voice toward the audience in front of him. Behind the platform, it was harder to hear the speaker because of the platform. More sound waves moving forward meant fewer sound waves behind the platform.
Pick a Target Reader
New authors often make the mistake of targeting an audience that is too broad. It’s as if they want to remove the wooden platform so people behind the platform can hear better.
But the people behind the platform don’t want to listen. By removing the platform and trying to reach folks behind it, the crowd in front can’t hear as well. The folks who came specifically to hear your message can only hear it if you focus on them.
You know your book isn’t for everyone, but you may not realize how focused your audience needs to be.
If you were about to speak from an old-school wooden platform, I would coach you to pick one person in the back of the crowd and speak just to him. If the tall guy in the back can hear you, everyone else can too.
In the same way, I advise writers to write to a single specific human rathe...
Trolls, Haters, and Critics Oh My – How to Handle Negative Feedback as an Author
Recently, a nasty review of Novel Marketing appeared on Apple Podcasts. It wasn’t our first negative feedback, but it was our first mean negative review. The reviewer didn’t like me and didn’t think I did a good job of hiding who I am. She was angry that I didn’t hide the fact that I am a Christian.
If you are a writer, you must accept one cold reality. Some people will hate you and your writing.
They’ll post false reviews, stir up untrue controversy, and try to systematically take you down. So what can you do about these people?
James L. Rubart, bestselling author and Christy Hall of Fame winner, has experienced the vitriol spewed by a stranger on the internet. The internet stranger admitted, in the scathing book review he had written, that he had not read the book.
In your career, you may have to deal with people who are unreasonably mean.Thomas Umstattd, Jr.
When I created my crowdfunding course, we crowdfunded the course. I posted a link to our campaign in a Facebook group of super-backers, and they hated it! They thought people should have to look it up and research blogs. They were also attacking me, saying “Who are you to teach this information?”
I thought I if showed them the course they would understand what I was trying to do and they’d cool down. So I sent 10GB and hours of video of the course to the first commenter who was so angry. He replied and said, “I don’t expect this to change my mind. Here’s why I don’t like you or what you’re doing.”
Two minutes later, he posted to the Facebook group and wrote, “I checked out the course, and it’s no good.”
Haters are often motivated by jealousy. Any member of that Facebook group could have created this course, but they hadn’t.
What’s the difference between Critics, Haters, and Trolls who give negative feedback?
A critic has an educated opinion, but they may not agree with you. A critic will explain what they liked and didn’t like. They elevate quality and try to help people avoid bad films or books.
Movie critics will evaluate a film based on their values. Often, their feedback is used to improve the film.
A critic can provide helpful feedback on your writing. If you implement the helpful parts, the critique can improve your writing.
Critics, such as editors, don’t have a personal bias. You can dialog with a critic and you may win them over, or they may convince you to see it their way. If you remain teachable, conversation is constructive.
A troll enjoys arguments and a debates. If you’re writing is controversial, you will probably have trolls arguing against you, but every side of an internet argument has trolls, so you probably have trolls who agree with you as well.
They enjoy the fight for the sake a of the fight. Unlike a critic, they are not concerned with quality or conversation. If you dialogue with a troll, everything you say, whether it’s valid or not, will be fodder for their fight. They have a personal bias and they do not reason or converse.
They may even argue a point they don’t believe just for the sake of arguing, and since they’ve had so much practice, they will probably win the argument.
Many authors are tempted to debate trolls and defend negative feedback. Do not do it. I made the mistake of corresponding with the troll about my crowdfunding course, and it was a mistake. I thought he was a critic. If he had been, he would have gone through the course and offered feedback...
20 Ways to Promote Your Book During the Holiday Season
December is the biggest sales month for most authors because books make great gifts! So how can your holiday book promotion help your book become a go-to Christmas gift?
Don’t Let Publishing Ruin Your Christmas
Before we talk about tactics, let’s discuss how we can keep holiday book promotion in the right place. I don’t want to add stress to an already stressful time of year. I believe the following strategies will help reduce your stress.
Take a Break
You can take a break from marketing to spend time with your family. If your book is good and already has a fan base, then people will still buy your book as a gift even if you do zero marketing. That said, more people will buy it as a gift if you remind them, but it’s ok to take a break if you need to.
For example, I will be taking a few weeks off podcasting so that I can spend time with my family.
Promote Ahead of Time
Plan your holiday book promotion before the rush of the season. When you start promoting your books early in the Christmas season, you’ll have more time to enjoy your family as the holiday approaches.
Put Marketing on Autopilot
Many marketing tactics can be scheduled in advance. The rest of the Novel Marketing episodes this month are scheduled to release while I’m “on holiday,” as they say in the UK.
Create a Template
Once you’ve promoted your book through one Christmas season, you can use your marketing plan as a template for the next year. Much of your material can be used again. For example, you can reuse your emails and tweak them next year so that you don’t have to start from scratch.
For more time-saving tips, see my post How to Spend LESS Time Marketing Your Book.
If you’re ready to make a template you can follow or tweak for years to come, consider implementing the following strategies for your holiday book promotion.
#1 Make a Plan
Create a written marketing plan for your holiday book promotion season. I recommend breaking it into three phases: Prep, Promo, and Echo.
Prep (Starts October 1)
In the preparation phase, you get things in order. You’ll draft your blog posts, gather your gift ideas, and write your emails. The goal is to put as much as possible on autopilot so that you can spend your holiday season baking cookies and playing scrabble.
Only shoppers wait until the last minute. Sellers plan ahead. If you want to sell your book during the holiday shopping season, start thinking like a seller.
Promo (Starts Black Friday)
The Christmas promo window in the US starts the day after Thanksgiving. Interestingly, countries like the UK and Canada also have Black Friday, even though they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. Black Friday is a good starting point for your holiday book promotion in most English-speaking countries.
Echo (Starts December 26)
Holiday shopping happens in two waves. In the first wave, shoppers buy paperbacks and hardbacks because they’re easy to wrap and place under the tree.
In the second wave, people buy books, ebooks, and audiobooks with the gift cards they received for Christmas.
The Best Book Publishing Podcast!
I am a teen homeschooler intending on pursuing a writing carrier, and listen to many podcasts. But when it comes to how-to sort of marketing information, this one is by far the best.
I have a marketing related research question. Especially related to publishing on Amazon, I understand it is very important to know what kind of content sells well, and what doesn’t. Where would you recommend researching marketing information if you intend to publish on Amazon? I guess I don’t know where to start when it comes to researching what genres I should write in.
I’ve been listening to this podcast for months now and it has entirely changed my views on writing, marketing, and much more. Thomas is a practical genius and this podcast is filled with valuable information for writers of all kinds.
Solid Beginner Podcast but too much religion
Pros: well-edited, practical information for beginners
Cons: host brings up religion in every episode and his political views less frequently… don’t be fooled by the title. This is a Christian Novel Marketing Podcast.
Beware: Host assumes any review mentioning religion is an attack on his character (his true self) as opposed to honest feedback letting him know he is alienating listeners. Though from a business standpoint there is something to be said for podcasting to a niche.