Pay It Forward Indie Book Challenge


Since I just released my third work of fiction, Words on a Feather, and as I start to outline my projects for 2016, I decided that I can no longer do my marketing passively. Of course, being that I’m a person on a super-tight budget, it’s free or low-budget marketing tactics for this girl!

My plan: get people and bloggers to post reviews about my work.

My problem: getting people and bloggers to post reviews about my work.

Do Reviews Really Matter?

Let’s put it this way – if you’re looking for something new to read on whatever site you buy your books from, the top three things that will probably attract you are:

  • Genre
  • Cover art
  • Title

If all three of these things are to your liking, then and only then will you click on the book to see if the description also sounds interesting. This is also the part where people will either consciously or unconsciously look at the star rating. So yes – reviews can influence on-the-fence buyers.

Besides convincing people to make purchases, reviews, especially those by bloggers, are unbiased advertisements.

How far can one blogged review go?

Let’s say a single blogger only has a small repeating readership of 1,000 people. Even still, there would be at least 1,000 new pairs of eyes looking at your title. If any one of those people share the blog on social media, then everyone that person knows may potentially see a blog about your book.

And thus news about your book spreads =0)

In short, whether reviews are formal, brief, or well-written blogs, they definitely create publicity for whatever is being reviewed, and those reviews will factor in to some purchasing decisions.

How Do You Find Reviewers?

Theyre-behind-you-520I myself have been looking into this process, and I know I have touched on it in previous blogs. From what I have researched, there are three basic ways that writers get reviews for their work.

Paying People

When there is a demand for something, instantly it becomes a commodity. There are many people and agencies who provide reviews as a service. Now, as a service, you have to wonder whether these reviews are honest. Several sites specifically state that they will not post any review lower than a specific ranking. In other words, they will only post good reviews.

Of course, if what you want is a bunch of good reviews to help your books sell, I can understand the logic of paying for these reviews. In fact, I’ve seen multiple advertisements asking for writers to create positive reviews for pay. By the way, these gigs just want people to write positive reviews. The reviewers are not required to read the book or use the product.

In the end, this method is pretty much just padding the numbers. Does it lead to the same result of making a product sell? Perhaps, at first, but if something is horrendously bad, it won’t be long before real people start voicing their complaints about being misled to buy a poor product.

Asking People

If you have moral issues with paying for people to give you good reviews, then you have to take the harder road and start asking people for reviews. Your options for people to ask include:

  • Bloggers who specialize in book reviews
  • People who actually read your work
  • Reporters/members of the press
  • Close friends and family

Of these four, the top three are your most professional options. Not that reviews from your family and close friends aren’t helpful, but they may be biased.

Approaching bloggers is still a work in progress for myself. There are some websites that provide a listing of book review bloggers by genre, but not all of these lists are regularly updated.

Whether you use these lists or simply perform a Google search, most book reviewers will request information about your book, including the title, the author’s name, and a brief synopsis. Sending the reviewer a free copy of your book is more or less expected, but definitely wait for them to request the materials.

For approaching reporters or members of the press, it may be more difficult to land these interviews as a newer writer, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. If your paper is doing a spread on multiple local writers, you may have a way in, provided that the reporters in question consider you a real writer. If you don’t have a large fan base, they may not see an interview with you as something worth their time.

Nevertheless, when you are just starting out, you can always reach out to different members of the press on your own. The worst they can do is say no, right?

 Just remember, newspapers, your alma mater’s magazine, local small-press papers, etc., all of these people are in the business of content, and they need new content all the time. If you send out enough letters of interest, you might get someone’s attention, and that could result in more publicity and sales down the road.

Being Blessed with Awesome Fans

When you’re a new writer, you don’t exactly have a fan base, which is why you need reviews to get more fans. As you develop fans, sometimes you will be lucky enough to have vocal ones who will sing your praises all over social media. These are the fans I hope to earn some day.

By the way, if you are one of my amazing fans, and you want to review any of my published works, follow these links to the books:

Thank you in advance for the love and the reviews!!!

Challenge to Myself for 2016

All in all, when you are starting out, getting reviews for your books may feel like pulling teeth. As you publish more titles, go to conventions, make appearances, and continue marketing yourself, the reviews will eventually come in. But, to get to that point, you have to work on marketing NOW!

With my need for reviews in mind, I have decided on a pay it forward style challenge for myself:

In 2016, I will endeavor to read works by indie writers, and I will post reviews here on my blog and on related retailer sites.

First off, let me say this: I am not a regular book reviewer!!!

My purpose for this challenge is to help other writers. We’re all in the same indie writing community, after all.

My criteria for my book choices are as follows:

Genre specific – I will read anything that is supernatural, fantasy, science fiction-esque, horror, or adventure.

Current rating – I only want to review works that have very few reviews or no reviews at all.

Number of publications –I’m also trying to limit my reviews to books that are written by starting authors, so preferably people with no more than five titles under their belts.

Cost – I’m cheap/frugal, so it’s got to be less than $10.

Medium – I’m going to stick with e-books, but if I come across a hard copy, I won’t be opposed to reading it.


Although I plan to do my best with this pay it forward challenge, I also know that I am a busy person. Furthermore, I have other blogs to produce, and I’m writing a collection of short stories and a full-length novel this coming year.

To put it bluntly – you WILL NOT see a book review every week.

I’m guessing probably one review every 6-12 weeks, depending on what other titles I have on my reading docket.

All right, 2016, let’s see a productive year with lots of writing and lots of reviewing!!!!!!


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