Now that the world of self-publishing has become more commonplace and tools are in place to help authors from a variety of skill levels complete their works for publication, one of the chief hurdles that authors still seek help for is marketing. Book promotion continues to be a huge obstacle to success for authors, regardless of publishing mode. A panel at the recent PubSmartCon, chaired by Shari Stauch, CEO of Where Writers Win, discussed the merits of professional book reviews and book clubs as avenues for book discovery.
NetGalley’s Tarah Theoret spoke about the service that links books with reviewers. “We have over 200,000 publishers as clients, and we work with traditional publishers, small publishers, and self-published authors. For the most part they are pre-pub, but there’s no set rule for when a book can go up on NetGalley. They are for review, and not purchase and consumption directly on the site.”
In the case of NetGalley, the fee to the rights holder is not paid in any way to the reviewer, it is instead paid to keep the site in operation. But other representatives from companies like Chanticleer Book Reviews & Media and Kirkus Reviews spoke about the importance of quality reviews from vetted sources, even if those reviews come at a cost. While paid book reviews continue to be a hotly contested issue among authors and readers alike, panelists Kiffer Brown (Chanticleer) and Eric Liebetrau (Kirkus) explained the difference between an honest review from a long-standing publishing industry entity, and the option to pay an individual in exchange for a “good” review.
One of the topics covered at the event were the inherent ineffectiveness of blog tours, especially in the climate where anyone with a blog can charge money for arranging blog tours among their friends, regardless of how appropriate various blogs are for a particular title, the high or low Alexa ranking for those blogs, and more. Stauch spoke at length about what other options authors have when planning a virtual tour, as well as key tips to look for in online promotion where users’ sites are concerned.
Peer reviews were highlighted as a valuable tool for authors, especially through sites like Goodreads, despite some of the recent difficulties users have found in trusting the reviews found on the site due to its terms of service. BooksILove, a free app for book reviewing and discovery, is another option for reviewing titles, but with a lot less intensive involvement.
The second half of the panel focused on the feasibility and benefits of finding book clubs to read an author’s work, not just in terms of sales to the participants, but also for the buzz and word-of-mouth aspects of being a book club selection. Lynn Bettancourt of Savannah Bound to Please runs a book club with both live and virtual participants numbering over 300 members, and spoke about the ability of authors to reach out to groups with their titles.
Recordings of the panels from the PubSmartCon will be made available soon.