Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Six Common Myths about Book Reviews

by Dana Lynn Smith, the Savvy Book Marketer

Book reviews are a powerful promotional tool, but many authors have some misconceptions about reviews and how to obtain them. Here are some common myths about getting book reviews.

Myth #1 - Book reviews are just for new books.

It's true that book review journals read by librarians and booksellers review books at or soon after publication. It's best to focus your review efforts during the first year of a book's life, but some venues will review older books.

Myth #2 - No one will review a self-published book.

It is more challenging for self-published authors and small presses to get reviews in certain venues, but it's certainly not impossible. Self-published books are far more likely to be reviewed if they are produced to industry standards (well written, edited and designed). A number of book review websites welcome self-published books or even focus specifically on them, and there are several book journals like Midwest Book Review that are friendly to independent and small presses.

Myth #3 - Book reviews are just for books being sold to bookstores and libraries.

Trade journals like Publishers Weekly and Library Journal are designed to meet the needs of booksellers and librarians, so they focus on books that are available through major distributors and wholesalers at standard discounts. But there are plenty of other places to get book reviews, including book blogs, topical blogs, online bookstores, specialty publications, literary magazines, and reader networks.

Myth #4 - You can't get reviews for ebooks.

It takes some extra research to identify revenue venues that will review books that are available only in ebook format. Many reviewers accept only printed books, although that is slowly changing as the use of ebook readers becomes more widespread. There are several websites, such as Kindle Obsessed, that focus on ebooks.

Myth #5 - No one pays attention to the reviews in online bookstores.

It's true that some shoppers view online reviews with skepticism, but I do believe that reviews (or the lack of them) influences shoppers in online bookstores. In my book, How to Get Your Book Reviewed, I cite a research study by the Yale School of Management that backs this up. With so many books to choose from, shoppers are often looking for some factor to help them decide between several books.

Having very few or no reviews on an Amazon sales page can give the impression that the book isn't very popular. Reviews can also give the shopper more insight into the book, beyond the product description.

Be sure to encourage customers and book reviewers to post their review or recommendation on Amazon.

Myth #6 – It's not worth the effort of pursing reviews.

Book reviews serve two basic purposes: they bring your book to the attention of people who might not have learned about it otherwise, and they help potential customers decide if your book is a good fit for them. The more reviews you have, and the more places those reviews appear, the greater your reach and your selling power.

All book marketing plans should include a strategy for maximizing the value of reviews, endorsements and testimonials.

About the Author

Dana Lynn Smith, The Savvy Book Marketer, helps authors and indie publishers learn how to sell more books through her how-to guides, blog, newsletter, and private coaching. Learn how to use reviews to sell more books in her comprehensive guide, How to Get Your Book Reviewed, and get more book marketing tips at

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Writing for Small Presses

by Kai Strand

It is a great time to be a writer. The power of publication has shifted more into the author’s hand than ever before. In the past you could be a fantastic writer, but if you didn’t find that ONE publisher who wanted to publish your work, you were dead in the water. Today there are more small presses than ever before, including many that are taking advantage of electronic publishing and doing a good job of it and there is accessibility and affordability in self-publishing. I caution you though, if you want to make a career as an author, don’t just throw your work into an ebook and hope people love it. You still have to provide a quality product that people will feel is worth their investment of time and money. That means more than just your husband or best friend should help you prepare the book for publication, get professionals involved who know their stuff, editing, book cover design, whatever else people in-the-know suggest.

Kai's writing desk
For today’s purposes I’m going to talk about publishing with a small press, since that’s the route I’ve chosen. I enjoy working with small presses for many reasons. A book is a collaborative deal regardless of which route you take. With a small press, the collaboration is more intimate than if you were with a large press and less over-lording than if you self-publish. You usually have good communication with your editor, input into your cover design and can get answers to your questions from the senior editors or the publisher.  Though it is unlikely you will get an advance from a small press, your royalties might be slightly larger, especially on the ebook. Their overhead isn’t as big as a large publisher, so they tend to give more back to the author where they can.

Of course there are drawbacks. Because small press keep their staff lean, the employees are often overburdened and might miss deadlines, pushing back your release date. Small presses often don’t even provide a solid release date because of this, leaving the author unable to prepare a ‘launch’ for their book or having to postpone a previously planned one (that can be embarrassing). Small presses usually don’t provide much support at all with promoting your book. Sometimes not even a Facebook page or Twitter, which costs the company nothing if they can get their authors to add the content for them. And finally, small presses go out of business frequently, which can result in your book rights bobbing around for a while or your publication never coming to fruition. Do be sure to do your homework on the company before submitting to them and if you choose to accept a contract and the company isn’t what you thought…move onto the next book with a different publisher. You usually will have a chance to snag back your rights after three years and then you can take the book elsewhere or self-publish it.

Small press fits my current publication expectations.
I like working with people who know more about the aspects of publishing a book than I do. I love that I can have multiple books being prepared for publication at the same time while I keep writing new stuff. Last year I had two books publish within a few weeks of each other and this year there are only a couple months between book releases. You can’t do that if you are self-publishing, because it is all up to you.

I don’t know that going forward I will only publish with small presses. I hope my career will be long and fruitful, so I suspect I will hit all the options eventually. However, I am enjoying my experience publishing with small presses and I’m learning a lot about the business of writing for children.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

About the Author
Kai Strand writes fiction for kids and teens. Her debut novel, The Weaver, was a finalist in the 2012 EPIC eBook Awards. She is a (very lucky) wife and the mother of four amazing kids. The most common sound in her household is laughter. The second most common is, "Do your dishes!" She and her family hike, geocache, and canoe in beautiful Central Oregon, where they call home.

To find out more about Kai’s books, download companion documents, find links to her published short stories and discover all the places to find Kai both virtually and in person, visit her website: She loves to hear from readers, so feel free to send her an email or visit her facebook page, KaiStrand, Author.

Follow Kai’s Beware of the White book tour for more chances to win epic stuff. There will be spontaneous giveaways that won’t be announced ahead of time and only virtual stalkers will be able to participate in all the fun. Enter below for your chance at one of three book-related prize packages.

About the Book
As is tradition, Terra learns on the Saturday past her twelfth birthday that she is a nature's spirit. It is her legacy to serve in the peaceful underground city of Concord. Learning she is named in a prophecy and being threatened by the leader of the death tribe . . . that part breaks tradition.

The Trepidus are the death janitors of the Underworld, responsible for delivering fatalities with a smile and cleaning up after themselves until Blanco, recent leader of the Trepidus, decides the day of reckoning for his species is coming. He begins organizing the creatures and leads them toward an uprising. The prophecy says there is one person who can stop him. Terra.

With Spirit of Security Frank protecting her, Terra attempts to complete her training and discover her spirit talents. Together, they go on a rogue investigation to learn how to defeat Blanco. In the end, it comes down to a battle of the minds. The future of Concord is at stake. Will Blanco, the older, more experienced being win? Or will Terra, the young, new spirit earn back the peace of the city?

Buy it at
Or look for it on iTunes
Thank you for reading! Good luck in the giveaway at Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

More Children's Book Bloggers

More children’s book blog sites that review/promote books for middle-grade readers. These sites will be added to the list that appears on the MG Book Bloggers page on this site. Your suggested additions to the list are very welcome. Use the comment box or e-mail me at maggielyons66 at gmail dot com and I'll add your comment to the list. 
Reviews and excellent lists of children’s book bloggers and books by category.
Online social network (similar to Goodreads) that encourages kids ages 6-12 to read. Books are recommended by community members (kids, parents, and teachers) and reviewed. Kids can create their own virtual bookshelves and receive reading help from teachers and parents.
Margaret Bucklew's website "is not only for authors to list their kids books, but a place for children, parents, grandparents, teachers, librarians and all those with an interest in children's literature to find great books."

The following are a few blogs featuring MG literature that appear on the Independent Book Bloggers Awards list at

Find more book blogs (799 of them!) at: