Dear Author,

If you're viewing this page, you probably sent me an email asking me to review your book because you saw I did a review for another book similar to yours.

Unfortunately, the message you sent me is a waste of your time. Please read this page if you want to succeed at selling your books. I’m not selling anything with this page. The following message is free advice, but I would recommend you take this advice because what I’m sharing here works. I should know…I’m paying my bills with the sales from my fiction series and I'm teaching other authors how to do it.

As you’ve guessed by now, I am also an author, but the good news is you can learn from my experience and my mistakes. I have learned that sending out emails, like this one you sent me, will do you more harm than good. Please DO NOT contact people who have left reviews on other books and ask them to review your book unless their profile specifically states they would like to be contacted for reviews. If you read my profile on Amazon, you'll see I SPECIFICALLY have a statement that say do not contact me for reviews. And yet…here you are. Why is this approach bad?

It’s tacky and akin to telemarketing.

If you don't like strangers calling you on your phone to sell you stuff or get you to do a survey, then don't send out these messages. Especially don’t contact authors and ask them for reviews. We authors are busy writing books and don’t have time to review the books of every author we know, let alone authors we don't know.

And if you’re wondering about my other credentials: I’ve been heavily involved in the digital publishing industry since 2009 as traditionally and self-published author, an editor for two small presses and a cover designer both for a small press and freelance. I also teach webinars to authors to show them how to make money selling their books through their mailing lists AND how to build review teams. So take the time to read the advice on this website. Eh…you made a mistake. Learn from it and move on.

No hard feelings! Really. This page is all about tough love and I want you to succeed…or I wouldn't have wasted my time referring you to this page OR crafting it for the many authors who keep sending these review requests. I'll show you EXACTLY how to get real reviews. Read on!

HOW TO GET REVIEWS:

  1. Build a mailing list
  2. Ask your subscribers if they want to join your Review Team
  3. Give them your lead magnet as the first book for them to review.
  4. All other requests for books from your backlist should be in exchange for a review, so don’t send them the next eBook unless they have sent you a link to the first free eBook you sent them (lead magnet)

THAT'S how you get people to review your books if you're just starting out. People who have joined your mailing list are already interested in your books. People who have reviewed books similar to yours don’t know you from Adam. That’s why it’s a bad idea to contact them this way. CLICK HERE to read an article I wrote that not only details this method, but gives a lot of tips and suggestions to succeed.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU’VE ONLY WRITTEN ONE BOOK:

Short answer: KEEP WRITING.

Long answer: If you only have one book, stop marketing right now and start writing the next book. You should not be marketing your books until you have written and published at least THREE books. And if you're a non-fiction author, there's advice for you in here, too.

If you’re thinking, “I’ll write and publish the first book and if it sells and I make money from it, then I’ll write the next one. If it doesn’t, then I’ll quit and go back to my day job.”

If that’s what you’re doing, go back to your day job right now. You WILL NOT make any money from one book. That’s like opening a store and putting only one product on your shelves and saying the same thing – if it sells, you’ll put more products on the shelf; if it doesn’t, you’ll quit. Your BACKLIST is where you make your money on your books. And readers will not invest in an author who only has one book…unless it’s a non-fiction author and that one book is fixing a problem they have. But I still say you should keep writing even if you write non-fiction. KEEP WRITING.

If you’re a non-fiction author, write other books related to your non-fiction topic or create companion books and workbooks for your non-fiction book. Become a subject matter expert in what you're writing. If you're using your non-fiction book to launch your speaking career, you should still KEEP WRITING.

If you’re a fiction author, I highly recommend you write a SERIES. Stand-alone novels DO NOT sell. And don’t say, “Oh yeah? Well, Stephen King, Anne Rice, Nora Roberts and [insert well-known author making millions] all write stand-alone books and they’re selling!”

First of all, you’re not those authors and you don’t a million-plus fans lining up for your next book…or you wouldn’t have contacted me begging for a review.

Second of all, you don’t have a marketing budget big enough to sell your stand-alone novel…or you wouldn’t have contacted me begging for a review.

Let’s be realistic. I know from experience (see credentials) that readers crave to read in series because they love to fall in love with characters and stay in that world as long as they can. If you don’t know how to write books in a series, LEARN. It’s the fastest track to building devoted fans. KEEP WRITING.

HOW TO BUILD YOUR MAILING LIST QUICKLY:

READ THIS ARTICLE. I've detailed step-by-step procedures of what to do to build your mailing list. I'm not selling anything. Just read the article.

GET a MailChimp account. It's FREE up to 2000 subscribers and they now include automation for free accounts. You can connect your MailChimp list to InstaFreebie (part of the InstaFreebie paid service) and anyone who downloads your lead magnet through this giveaway will automatically be added to your MailChimp mailing list. If you already have another mailing list service, you should still get MailChimp and use it to collect those addresses AND have a welcome message for your new subscribers. Then, on a weekly basis, export the CSV with your new leads and import them into your preferred mailing list service. I have both MailChimp and ActiveCampaign and I use this method myself. Over 5,000 subscribers using this method and leads are gathered while I sleep!

MailChimp is one of the best and easiest to use mailing list services out there for authors. It’s simple and yet it has many features to help you expand and reach out to your audience. So this is not only a great way to help build your list in conjunction with InstaFreebie, it's a great option if you don't already have a mailing list service and you don't have a clue about which service to pick.

How many people should you have on your mailing list? There is no solid answer to that question. BUT the goal should be to build your 1000 True Fans, as Kevin Kelly talks about in THIS VIDEO. Sales is always a numbers game. The more you have on your list, the more people you're in front of. However, the QUALITY of your list is more important. You want to strive to have high open rates and interactivity. I have at least a 40% open rate and 24% interaction rate with my list. Media & Publishing email marketing averages are 18% open rates and 3% click-through rates. Anything above that is what you want to shoot for. More on that later.

Lead Magnets for Authors

Lead Magnet = SampleA lead magnet is like that little piece of sausage the grocery store person is handing out on a toothpick. They are handing out little samples of what they’re trying to sell. If you like it, you usually buy more. If you don’t, you move on. The people who are just looking for a free lunch will take the sample and leave. They’re not worth your time, so don’t fret if they don’t stick around. That’s why they’re getting a sample.

We must do the same for our writing – ONLY give away a free sample. Do not keep giving away all your books. Most authors fall into this trap of trying to get their books into the hands of everyone they can…then they have no one left to buy their books. ONE book is enough. Here are some suggestions for lead magnets

Fiction

  • Short Stories or novellas based in the world of the books you’re trying to sell
  • Deleted chapters
  • Prequels
  • The first book in a series (recommended for authors who have 3 or more books in a series)

Non-Fiction

  • Action Guide – Checklists, Worksheets and Videos
  • Quick Tips To Apply [Your Book Title] To Your [Life / Work / Relationships]
  • One big important tip that will save them time, money or heartache as a sample of what you’re an expert at or what you’re writing about. NOTE: Tell them WHAT they need to do. Don’t tell them HOW. Let them learn the how by buying your book(s).

I, personally, have a novella I wrote (25,000 words), which is a spin-off from my main series. I give this away to EVERYONE who joins my mailing list or my giveaways and to my review team as their first free book (review team must send me the link to the review for the free book if they want the next book on my backlist to review for free – DO NOT give all your books away at once to the review team – make them pay with a review link). If they don’t like that short novel, they won’t like my other books, so it’s a great intro to me as a writer and is a short investment on the reader’s time to find out if they like me or not.

HOW TO MANAGE YOUR MAILING LIST:

In short, you should be sending messages to your readers AT LEAST twice a month, but I recommend weekly. OMG DO NOT SEND DAILY MESSAGES! I cannot understand why so many email marketers send messages every day. It's annoying and you'll scare away people who may have originally liked what you had to offer. If you DO send a daily message, let it be for a limited time. Non-fiction authors are notorious for sending out daily messages. Tell your subscribers they'll get one week of daily tips regarding whatever you write about. Let them know the daily messages will end, then send weekly ones or have them sign up for another series of email tips, but don't just endlessly send daily messages.

Weekly emails seem to be a good pace to keep the interest of a subscriber and not annoy them. This frequency keeps you in front of them so they won’t forget about you AND if you offer valuable information (non-fiction) or free content (fiction) like short stories and other book-related freebies, your readers will enjoy hearing from you weekly.

If you’re a fiction author, join my mailing list so you can see how I do it. If you’re a non-fiction author, subscribe to Josh Earl’s newsletter and you’ll get DAILY tips on how to reach out to your subscribers and make money from what you have to offer. GREAT information. I hear from him daily and I read his emails every day. LOTS of good information on marketing. So you CAN send daily IF you have valuable information you're sending.

AUTOMATIC DRIP CAMPAIGNS are the key to sending out weekly emails…automatically. You set it up once and it runs itself. If you don’t know what an automatic drip campaign is, it is a series of emails a subscriber receives on a schedule based on when they signed up for your list. CLICK HERE to read up on the way MailChimp does Automation (as they call it), but you can also go to Google and search for “what is an automatic drip campaign” for info and suggestions.

My drip campaign (what I call my VIP Club) sends an email every week with a freebie and teasers to the books I’ve written. CLICK HERE for a Sample Reader Club Plan for fiction authors. AND in that folder, there are plenty of other tips and suggestions and templates to create your own freebies for your newsletter. Non-fiction authors can still use some of the info in this folder, but Josh Earl is your go-to guy for the email/newsletter plan. And if you want to create free graphics like I do (desktop wallpapers and smartphone backgrounds) but you don’t have Photoshop, no problem! CLICK HERE for a free online graphics editor that’s pretty darn good and easy to use. I also recommend Canva – a free online tool with pre-made graphics and free stock images. CLICK HERE to see a sample of a desktop wallpaper I created as a freebie for my subscribers.

Also, check out the article I wrote on my writers blog for more recommended book: Arial’s Author Toolbox.

Good luck on your writing career!

P.S. Regarding the message you sent me…I'm gonna take a wild guess you did NOT know I was an author when you sent your message. If you had read my profile on Amazon, you would have learned this AND you would have read my message that says please do not contact me with review requests. Just because someone writes a review doesn't mean they want to write reviews for everyone, so IF you are going to embark on such a net-throwing tactic, please do a little more homework on who you're contacting IF you want positive results. I'm just sayin'