M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

When is Enough, Enough?

Scrounging for  Books Reviews:
To market, to market to sell a fine story or two. Unfortunately, selling a story to a publisher isn't the end of a writer's efforts. Whether you self-publish or are publisher-published, you still end up having to create some buzz about your book. One of the best ways of creating buzz is having your book reviewed ... especially if your social networking platform is on the small side -- like mine.

Slow me took a while to learn enough to implement the book reviewing process, and I thought I'd share what I learned. If you got a publisher who's free with the ARCs [advanced reading copies] and a marketing department, your efforts will be supplemental. If you are the sole marketeer, like me for Taking Vengeance, you're going to end up creating your own buzz.

One of the best ways to create book-buzz is to have others give your work four and five star reviews. To find book reviewers, you can Google-search book bloggers, and you can drag Twitter, Goodreads, and other networking sites to find people who accept requests for reviews. These places will also help you jump beyond your immediate social network into larger circles.

For me, the simpler way was to look for lists of people who review e-books. Then I took several weeks sending review requests to likely looking reviewers/book bloggers. This took time because each reviewer has their specific requirements as to the type of books they review.  I then checked out their audience and a few of their reviews.  All told, I sent out about 60 requests. Ten/eleven reviewers have emailed back to say I'm in their queue to be read/reviewed sometime between now and Christmas.

What was my magic procedure? There weren't none. I gave the details of the book I was requesting a review for [title, genre, number of words], gave an elevator-type pitch for the book, and explained I could send a PDF or text file if they were interested. Of course, some reviewers hated PDF files, so I didn't send a request to them. The reviewers I liked best were the ones who had a request form on their site.

Who were the best lists? I think Simon Royle's list was the best, mostly because he updates the list. Step-by-step Self-publishing has a good list too, mostly of people who will review indie works in several genres. Another useful list: Lauri J. Owen and Pippa Jay offer a Comprehensive List of Book Reviewers at Owen's blog "Embers". There are others of course. Google indie book reviewers and who knows who'll show up in the links.

How many contacts are enough? Only you can decide based on the time available and any writing deadlines you might have.

One word of caution. You'll find duplicates on the above lists so you need to keep track of who you email your requests to.       

[In case you're wondering, the buzz about Taking Vengeance is more like air fizzling out of a flattening tire. I'll report if sales increase once reviews start appearing. Of course, the ebook may get universally panned. I'll tell you that too. So far, one four star review is out by a guy who liked my different take on elves.]

This Week's Fantasy Review:
Finished three more Skulduggery Pleasant books, one after another and didn't get sick of them. The Skulduggery books are written by award winning, Irish author, Derek Landy. While I wasn't as happy with Mortal Coil as I was with the others, the book stood head and shoulders above most books I read. I'll nit-pick that Landy is letting the character development of his villains slide. All too often they appear, do their thing, and go away to come back and fight another day -- twirling their mustaches as they go.

Why do the books hold up after reading six of them? The same mordant sense of humor and  snidely named characters doing dastardly things, some of them even unexpected, keep the reader entertained. Of course, the various villains all want to conquer the world. The old and new villains try their best, but Skulduggery Pleasant and Valkyrie Cain are there to get beaten up while they save the day. The duo may be powerful magicians, but they get clobbered enough to let the reader know that saving the world is dangerous business.

Valkyrie's still making the wrong decisions but now is often getting out of the jams without being rescued by Skulduggery and her other friends, as she was often in the early books when she was younger. Mortal Coil has some minor shifts in allegiances which may cause some greater emotional conflict in the future than was previously contained in the story line. 

The next book in the series, Death Bringer, came out September, 1. Cheapo here is going to see if New Yorkie kids will buy it and send it on.

One of the things I like best about the series is its delicious darkness. The books have been translated into Spanish and German, but the last three don't seem to be published in an American edition. I wonder if the Mrs. Grundies got to the sales reps?


PS:
I've joined the e-reader revolution and am now the owner of a Kindle. It's a Kindle because it was given to me and the price was right. 

First thing I loaded? One of my critique partner's story published by TRW Press, Just Desserts. It's a funny little story well worth a buck to watch some kids outsmart the devil ... who also wants to take over the world. [You'd think the bad guys would have better things to do with their time.] Whatever, look up Steven A. Benjamin and preview the story on Amazon. A novel of his is a finalist at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer's Conference.

PPS:
Sorry to be late with the blog this week, 
but had too many doctor appointments between the old man and me.


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