Small Press Reviews and Promo

You’ve finally done it. Years of trying, and you’ve finally found a small press to publish your novel. *Throws confetti* That took a lot of work. I know. I’ve been there.

Now, release day is here, and your new book’s out for the world to see. Congrats! You’ve received kudos and pats on the back from family and friends and, perhaps, one from your publisher, too, but things aren’t going well. You’ve had few if any advanced orders and two weeks later your novel isn’t selling. Your baby’s suffering from neglect, and you don’t know what to do about it.

No, don’t crawl into a corner and cry–at least not when others are watching–don’t fold up and walk away. And certainly don’t throw away all your work in frustration. Instead, it’s time to rally. It’s time to fight, to get the recognition you need and deserve for all your hard work, and here are few ways to go about it.

Reviews: Sorry, but you should’ve started hunting for those two or more months before the release date. However, if you’re running behind it’s not too late to do something. Google is a place to start, but you won’t get too much. A better place to start, if you’re with a small press, is a site like The Indie View’s list. (Yes, if you publish with a small press you’re under that wide, dark umbrella of indie-publishing, like it or not) Tailor the list to your specific book (Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Crime, Romance, Children’s, Non-Fiction…) then read, really read through each site. What are they looking for? When was their last review posted? Are they taking submissions at all? If so, what is their preferred format? If you don’t follow the review site’s basic guidelines, you’re wasting time and energy that you could spend writing. Here are a few specifics to help you along:

  1.  Never, ever, ever pay for a review—especially from a small book blog. IMO, not from a larger reviewer like Kirkus either. Those reviews cost hundreds and there’s a chance you won’t get what you want—an honest review.

  2. Know that Amazon won’t take reviews of your work from anyone who they believe you’re associated with. Family, friends, writing buds…rumor has they troll for such associations. I have no proof of the matter, but I know several authors who have had reviews removed because of supposed associations, real or not. This makes getting reviews difficult. I know, I’m struggling with getting my latest novel, Surrogate, reviewed, and it’s keeping sales down.

  3. If your publisher is worth their salt, they’ll send out review requests too, but know those reviews probably won’t materialize. Be prepared to do extensive online leg work.

  4. If you’re like me, you have limited funds to send out print copies of your work and have seen too many of your review copies end up on Amazon as a used book without ever receiving a review. In my eyes, it’s sheer profiteering that undercuts an author’s potential profits. No, you don’t have to review my book, but at least donate the unread copy to a library or good cause. Selling it for your own profit is simply wrong, and too many reviewers who insist on hard copies are doing just that. *Steps off her writerly soapbox.

Promotion: So what can you do besides seek out reviews? Here are a few more tips to help you along.

  1. Do a little low-budget advertising. Run a Facebook ad or two. They cost as low as $5.00 and you can tailor them to your exact demographics. While likes do not equate to sales, it gets your name out there.

  2. Consider a low-cost book trailer. Yes, they do get attention. (again, this does not necessarily equate to sales) I used Promo to make mine. See it here. It’s a simple process once you get a feel for the site. (I used Promo, but I am in no way plugging them, hence, no direct link)

  3. Promote other authors so they’ll promote you. Yes, it helps get your name out there, but, again, it might not help actual sales.

  4. Milk social media for all it’s worth. Use Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other outlets, but don’t be annoying while doing so. Model your promo off other authors’ successes. Study what works and what doesn’t.

  5. Use local media. Send a press release to local TV stations and newspapers. Note: do so only if your work has wide appeal. Seriously, presenting your latest erotic or LGBT release to the local media in a red state might well put a target on your back so decide if it’s worth the risks.

No matter what you choose to do, be persistent. One day or one week won’t do the job. Getting reviews for and promoting your writing is hard work. Keep seeking reviews. Keep tweeting. Keep posting. Keep sharing. Just keep it up. Doing so doesn’t meant you’ll find success, but at least no one will be able to say you didn’t try.


Jeanne G’Fellers is the author of the Taelach Sisters Series and the new novel Surrogate, the latter of which she’s actively seeking reviews for.

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