Book Reviews and Literary Awards: Are They Relevant to Fiction Sales?

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

We all know that many readers check the reviews before deciding on a book, so no wonder that most authors rush out to get book review requests even before the launch of their new title. We also know, as it is evident, that non-fiction books such as Self Help, Health, and Spirituality have the author’s credibility and certification as their foundation and thus winning awards plays an important part of credentials confirmation as well as credibility to the title. When it comes to fiction however, all bets are off, as praise for creative work is such a subjective matter. So are reviews and awards really relevant to sales when it comes to fiction? In my opinion, yes!

·         We all are very particular about what we like, but at the same time we always ask others about their experiences and opinions when it comes to food, hotels, movies, books, and anything or place that enriches our lives. When it comes to subjectivity, just who likes or dislike an item or place will give or take credibility. This is why designers give fashion to celebrities to wear, advertisers hire celebrities to feature products, and authors hope for good reviews and endorsements. This is also why The Oscar is so important in the film industry, as is the Emmy in the music Industry and the Pulitzer in the literary world. Within this context I believe that reviews and awards can and will influence some buyers to purchase or not purchase a book. But I must be honest; I also believe that it is not the decisive factor. It does take the buyer’s opinion of the product that is in front of them when they are considering purchasing a book.

·         With the Indie’s boom, the pool of fiction books to choose from is limitless and all new books need to stick out in the crowd more than ever in order to make some sales. Famous authors and celebrities stick out just by their name alone due to their fan based platform. Authors published through the big publishers stick out with their publisher’s platform and distribution system, but Indie authors have their work cut out for them. This is where reviews and awards can help. More and more readers are venturing into the Indie pool as it offers variety, which is the one thing the traditional system is not offering to the market. So, having reviews and awards seals to back up the title can make the difference when it is being considered by a reader.

·         Finally, reviews and awards are truly the one feedback from the audience that can note to the author what their target market thinks about the title. If the feedback is showing a problem with the product’s quality, the author could fix it and publish a revised copy, or simply improve the production on their next title. If the feedback reveals that the title is being targeted to the wrong market, then that feedback can help to point the marketing strategy to the right niche. There is really no negative feedback if it is utilized to make and increase sales.

For more information on how Reader Views can help visit www.readerviews.com. For information on our Literary Awards Program click here.

 

Promoting Your Book - Is There a Perfect Formula?

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

Most indie authors realize that promoting a book is the real hard work in the writing profession. Most of us have already spent an infinite amount of time online and at speaking events, book signings, and conferences, and many other things, to promote our books and ourselves. For some people, these efforts translate into book sales, but for others, it does not. Why is that? What do some authors do that helps sell books? What are we missing when our promoting efforts don’t produce the expected results? Is there such thing as the perfect formula? In all the years I’ve been doing this, I came up with “No” as the definitive answer to this last question. I have come to realize that promoting should not be designed with a cookie cutter. Yes, we must use online tools in combination with real world events and opportunities, but how we combine them is not a “one-size-fits- all” thing.

Below are some tips on how to design a promotion campaign customized to each title:

·         The most important thing is to begin promoting early. That is, about 6 months before the book is out. While the book is still in production, the author should already be planning what strategy best fits the book, and begin putting it in motion.

·         Get help. Even when the author plans to do their own campaign, some guidance is necessary to navigate the different angles, tools, and best timing for the launch of the campaign. So collaborating with a publicist, even if just for consulting, always makes good sense.

·         Make a decision and be persistent! Promoting is not a one-time thing. It must be a consistent effort for as long as the book is for sale.

·         Be proactive. In the end, no one is more interested in selling the book than the author. Not bookstores, not publishers, not publicists! So the author should always be the consistent nagger and pushing promoter. Be proud of your product and keep up with it!

For more information on how Reader Views can help visit us at www.readerviews.com!

Does your Reading List Change with the Seasons?

Sheri Hoyte Editor

Sheri Hoyte
Editor

It occurred to me recently that my reading preferences tend to change with the seasons. This surprised me somewhat as I consider myself to be a well-rounded reader. Sure, there are certain genres I gravitate toward, but I am open to reading just about anything.  In fact, I try to push myself to read in genres that don’t call to me naturally. Curiously though, aside from the books I read for my job, my personal selections seem to be strictly driven by my mood, which, as it happens, changes with the seasons.

During the first few weeks of the year I am full of ambition –inspired and ready to jump in and start anew.  I usually set a ridiculous reading goal for myself, much like those often unattainable, but well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions.  I spend countless hours scouring the internet and perusing library shelves for titles to add to my reading list (probably logging enough hours with which I could have already actually READ a few books).  With the mindset at this point being that anything is possible, it is also the time when I am most willing to venture out of my comfort zone with books from the history, business and self-help genres. 

By Spring I am finished with non-fiction – sorry all you wonderful non-fiction authors, but at this point I really need a good story.  Coming of age tales, memoirs and happily ever after stories usually match my mood this season.

During the Summer I love to read mystery, romance, and historical fiction.  Reading historical fiction puts me in the mood for more history though, so I’ll typically listen to an audio book about a specific person in history (do audio books count)?

With the fall comes more mystery, specifically psychological thrillers that have a bit of romance mixed in.  Sci-fi and fantasy also works, and this is the only time of year I can venture into the horror genre.  I try to read a couple of horror titles a year but I have to read something humorous or uplifting immediately afterwards (nightmares guys – I’m a sissy)!

When winter hits I’m back to romance.  Snuggling under a blanket with a never ending supply of coffee and a great book and I’m set.  I also love books geared toward the holidays and family – ‘tis the season. With holiday shopping and the excitement and activities of the season, short stories are perfect for me since I can squeeze in some reading time without a heavy commitment.

Looking back over this list, it does seem pretty well rounded.  Did I miss anything?  I’ve considered creating a calendar and plotting out my reading for the next year.  It would be interesting to see if doing so would expand my reading horizons.  I’ll let you know how it works out.  How about you?  Does your reading list change with the seasons? Visit ReaderViews.com to learn about how we connect readers and writers.

Hooking Readers with Your Synopsis

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

When people pick up your book they want to know is what it is about. This is why books have a synopsis or description on the back cover. But if the text featured on the back cover doesn’t hook the reader’s interest right away, chances are they won’t buy the book.

After seeing your book cover or hearing your book title, the first thing readers do is pick up the book and flip it over to read the back cover, or if they are online, they will look for the product description, also called a short summary or synopsis (about a paragraph long). Some authors put only their biographies on their back covers. Depending on the book, the author’s Bio might give credibility but not only will the reader still wonder what the book is about; the author is also missing out on the best opportunity to hook readers.  Below are some tips on writing a synopsis with a hook:

1-      Make it Short. Remember, the possible buyer will not spend more than few seconds looking at the back cover, so make it sweet, short and to the point.

2-      Make it Relevant. Most people look for stories relevant to their lives, so it is important to show how the book can relate to current times on the synopsis.

3-      Make it Credible. Even sci-fi needs to sound credible to call the interest of a reader. So make sure that how you describe your story (no matter the genre), sounds credible to the reader.

4-      Make its Uniqueness Evident. What makes your story different from other books in that genre? That is the question to answer in the synopsis.

To give an example on using the above tips to create a synopsis, below is my book’s back cover/Amazon Synopsis:

“Growing up under WWII Italian survivors was not easy. For Susan, the hardest part was the feeling of alienation as she desperate tried to relate to her parents to no avail. Through the years Susan was able to relate with her mother, but her father remained an enigma until one day he gave her five tapes containing his memoirs.  Based on Nino’s first tape, Innocent War is a boy’s adventure, showing a child’s point of view through the war’s hardships, dangers, and tragedies, combined with his own humor, innocence and awakening as he grows up. Join Susan as she gets to know her father, and finds herself within the family she thought she knew.”                                                                               

1-      Make it Short: It is 114 words and states all topics within the stories.

2-      Make it Relevant: It states how I was trying to get to know my father (relevant to all who have parents)…even though it is about WWII, currently we are in war against terrorists.

3-      Make it Credible: I state that the story comes from first-hand accounts and there are tapes to back it up…

4-      Make its Uniqueness Evident:  WWII under the Italian point of View, A child’s experience.

In the end, the best sales person for a book is the author…and the best sales tool is the book itself! For more information on how Reader Views can help Authors visit www.readerviews.com.

Early Bird Registration Discount for Literary Awards ends October 31, 2017

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

We have been receiving so many great books for the 2017 Literary Awards program that I didn’t realize until now how close we are to the early registration deadline. Where did the time go! The Literary Awards is actually my favorite thing because every time I open an awards package I go back in time to when I was sending my own book to different awards programs.

I remember how I felt as I double-checked the entry form and the number of books, making sure everything was included, and then sealed the package sending in all of my hopes with my submission. It feels weird to me to think about it now, as I remember not knowing anything about literary contests or how they work. I remember wondering who would be judging my book and hoping that they would love it as much as I did. And now I find myself receiving so many authors’ hopes along with their books…

So, I decided to explain how the Literary Awards program works here at Reader Views.

  1. We receive the package, and process the submission. 
  2. The title then goes to the first line judging where the book gets read and a review is written.
  3. Once the book has been reviewed a set of scores is generated and entered into the awards database.
  4. This process goes continues until the final deadline and all the books are read and reviewed.
  5. Then the title goes into the second line judging where the finalists are selected by evaluating and tabulating the scores by a second group of judges per category.
  6. Once the finalists have been selected the final judging takes place by another panel of judges who will judge the books on each category, based on the physical book, the review and scores, upon which a final score is determine and placement awarded.

All books are treated with respect and enthusiasm as all our judges are avid book lovers, whether authors, or readers, or experts in a specific category.

The final deadline for entry is December 31, 2017.  We receive a LOT of books in December and, as you can imagine this process takes time. If you are planning to enter your book, this would be the perfect time to do so.  Not only do you avoid the mad rush at the end of the year, assuring your book is read and reviewed sooner, but it’s the final week to take advantage of the discounted entry fee.

For more information on how Reader Views helps authors visit www.readerviews.com, and check out our Literary Awards Early Bird Discount at www.readerviews.com/literaryawards.

What do Judges Look for When Scoring a Literary Awards Title?

Sheri Hoyte Editor

Sheri Hoyte
Editor

It’s October already!  The holidays are upon us and for our reviewers at Reader Views that also means lots and lots of reading as the 2017-2018 Reader Views Literary Awards program is open for submissions and in full swing.  Just a couple things to note that are new for this year:

·         We’ve extended the entry deadline to December 31st to accommodate all 2017 copyright books

·         Our early bird registration discount is extended to October 31st.  

So what do judges look for when scoring a literary awards title? Reading with my judge’s hat on is different than reading for leisure. I need to be able to evaluate the work through several different and specific aspects of the book, and thus must be on the lookout for, and pay attention to those details. Following are the guidelines I use when judging a literary awards title:

·         Content.  Content of course, is critical.  Does the author’s voice convey a distinct and consistent style throughout?  Does the flow of the book draw the reader in at an appropriate pace?  Does the reader have a clear understanding of who the characters are in the story? 

·         Presentation and Design.  I’ve said this before; there is nothing more distracting to a great story than editing and proofreading errors.  This is the easiest thing to fix or prevent in the first place.  I can tell within the first few pages whether or not a professional editor has been used.  An occasional typo won’t make or break the book, but consistent use of poor grammar will cause me to close the book for good.

·         Production Quality.   Is the cover attractive and appropriate for the genre and the story?  Yes, I know the cliché, but a dull and drab cover, or a noisy cover with hidden titles and too much information can be a turn off.  Does the binding fall apart when opening the book?  Is the paper quality adequate or just so-so?  I have a hard time concentrating on a story when the book I’m reading is falling apart or the pages are tearing because the paper is so thin. 

·         Innovation. It’s no surprise there is a lot of competition out there in the writing world, now so more than ever.   To stand out in any genre, innovation is the key.  Is the subject matter original?  Does the author bring a fresh voice to the genre?   Are writing elements being used in interesting and creative ways?

·          Social Relevance and Enjoyment.  For fiction books: Is the book impactful on the community of the genre?  Is it reflective of important social issues? Is it highly entertaining and completely engrossing?  Would I re-read this book?  Was I left wanting more? 

·         Resourcefulness.   For self-help, business, how-to, etc. type of books: Is the book easy to follow, clear and concise? Are credible sources noted? Does the author have credibility in the subject matter?

When I read a book, whether for pure enjoyment, to learn a new skill, expand my knowledge, or for a literary contest, I want to feel a connection to that book.  Be it fiction or non-fiction, humorous or biographical, when I’ve finished a book and it lingers in my mind for days – that is the sign of greatness. Happy holidays everyone and happy reading!

Judging a Book by Its Title

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

I can’t count the number of times I was misled by a title. A book title can make or break the book’s sales and popularity. The title is the book. It must be a summary of the book–an encapsulation of all its content in a few words, so creating a great title cannot only make or break sales, it can also make or break book reviews!

No matter how good a book is, if the title does not appeal to readers, they are never going to read your book. And if the title does not relate to the story and becomes misleading, readers giving reviews might not be the right audience, and thus will not recommend to other readers. Here are a few tips for creating a book title that will capture reader’s interest, clearly convey the book’s subject matter, and be memorable.
 

  • Short and To-The-Point. The title needs to be short and to the point so it immediately conveys your book’s subject. Titles should be no more than five words, and one or two is preferable.
  • Alliteration and Rhythm. You want your title to roll off the reader’s tongue, so it is not only easy to say but a pleasure to repeat. Some of the best titles have alliteration in them, a repeating sound that gives the title emphasis and flow. Repetition of a word also works well to give the title a rhythmic sound. Here are a few effective titles that use alliteration:

He Knew He Was Right (repetition and alliteration)
The Way We Live Now (alliteration)

The idea is to create the effect of a sound bite to make it easy to remember.

  • Avoid Words with Double Meanings or Pronunciations. Ask yourself if your title has any words that could be misread before you settle on them.
  • Be Original. Be sure to do an online search for your title to see whether anything comes up. If you find other books with your title, pick a different title. The last thing you want is to be thought as just another author writing about the same thing. Make sure that your uniqueness is reflected in your title so that your book stands out.
     
  • Make sure it can also be the website’s domain. When making sure your title is original, also check to see whether your book title is being used for a website. These days is not only important to stand out on the book cover…you should also be consistent on your website. Make sure your title can also be the book’s domain. Search the title as a domain and create it so that the title leads readers directly to your website so you can sell them your book.
  • Subtitles. If you feel your title needs more explanation, a subtitle is a good idea, provided it’s not there just for show. But don’t let that stop you from having fun. Yet, make sure it complements the title instead of repeating it. Also make it as short as possible.

Whatever you do, don’t forget to give your title a great deal of thought. Make it clear and memorable and your book will be too. For more information on how we can help Authors please visit www.readerviews.com.

Podcast Internet Radio Shows

Susan Violante Managing Editor

Susan Violante
Managing Editor

The internet has evolved beyond from being a place to read to being a place to see and listen to information. Radio has moved to the internet, and anyone can set up his or her own internet radio show. Authors can find plenty of internet radio shows where they can be guests, and they might even want to host their own shows to provide added exposure to their own books and to discuss topics they care about that tie into their book’s subject.

So what is a podcast? Basically, it is a live or pre-recorded show broadcast or uploaded on the Internet so people can listen to it. It is simply a recording stored online. The advantage of podcasts is that listeners do not have to tune in when the show airs but can visit the website later to play the recording. Options exist today for both live radio shows and for recording shows and placing them online so people can listen to them at their convenience.

Technology and technical skills aside, the key to creating an effective podcast to get people to listen is not really different than creating an effective talk radio or TV show. Some are funded by the audience; others are sponsored by third parties and even by the same Author through podcast service fees. All of them have an audience and are capable to spread your name and title out there. Here are some tips on requesting and getting booked:

  • Take the time to check the platform for the show and what type of audience will it draw. The purpose for the show is to fill a need within an audience—so make sure your topic of expertise or the topic of your book is a good fit before submitting.
  • If this is your first interview, do not be afraid to tell the host or the producer of the podcast. Ask as many questions you need about the process and provide the host with sample questions. There is no guarantee they will all be asked but it will for sure set a guideline for topics of conversation, which in turn give you an idea of what to expect.
  • Have as many rehearsals as needed by creating mock interviews with a friend or relative. Pay attention to how you answer the questions and make sure you manage to include the title of your books, and your website more than once; and even come up with a sound-bite to help the audience remember them.
  • The day of the interview, just relax, be yourself and enjoy the trip!
  • Finally, spread the word once the interview is up! Don’t be shy when it comes to letting everyone know about your interview! Post the link in your website and spread through social media.

For more information on how we can help authors please visit us at www.readerviews.com.