Book Reviews

I recently had an author ask me about book reviews. My book First Frost came out in June 2012 and so far according to Goodreads.com:

1,546 people have added it to their to-read list.
302 ratings
115 reviews

So…how do I do it?

Reviewers and bloggers. That’s how. They are the bread and butter of indie authors. I’m going to talk a little bit about what I do and hopefully this will help you get some more reviewers reading your book.

1. Research. I start by looking at books that are similar to mine and I look at the reviews it has on goodreads. Some of those reviewers have links to their websites and blogsites on their page. Then I click on the link and check out their blog. I look at the types of books and what genres they like to read.

2. Policy. Almost every blogger has a review policy. Read it thoroughly. You don’t want to give anyone a reason to delete your email without a second thought. And also, if they’re not into a specific genre and you know your book is in the genre that he/she isn’t interested in reading, do yourself a favor and don’t submit your book. Nothing is going to change their mind. It’s like sending a nonfiction book to a reviewer that reads paranormal books. Stick to the policy.

3. Followers. I also look for how many followers this blogger has. Most of the time I’ll submit to a blogger/reviewer if he/she has 100 followers or more. Why? You want someone who has people constantly checking in on their site. You’ll have a higher chance of getting someone to purchase your book.

4. Be polite and professional. A lot of the reviewers I submit to are interested in Young Adult books and some of them are older (21-30 years old) and some of them might be younger (13-17 years old) and the younger group might even have their parents monitoring their email (which I agree with 100%) so you want to come across as a professional. Here’s a sample email that I’ll send to bloggers that don’t have a specific guideline in their review policy.

Dear Insert Bloggers Name Here(Another tip: Always find out what the bloggers name is, it lets them know that you actually did read their blog and that you are genuinely interested in them reading your book. Try to be personable, you know what I mean?)

My name is Liz DeJesus, I have a young adult fantasy novel that has been released through Musa Publishing titled First Frost. I was wondering if it was something that you would be interested in reading and reviewing.
Here’s a quick blurb:
For generations, the Frost family has run the Museum of Magical and Rare Artifacts, handing down guardianship from mother to daughter, always keeping their secrets to “family only.”
Gathered within museum’s walls is a collection dedicated to the Grimm fairy tales and to the rare items the family has acquired: Cinderella’s glass slipper, Snow White’s poisoned apple, the evil queen’s magic mirror, Sleeping Beauty’s enchanted spinning wheel…
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Frost wants none of it, dreaming instead of a career in art or photography or…well, anything except working in the family’s museum. She knows the items in the glass display cases are fakes because, of course, magic doesn’t really exist.
She’s about to find out how wrong she is.
I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Sincerely,
Liz DeJesus
Author of First Frost, The Jackets, and Nina
See? Simple. Direct.Polite. To the point.

5. Rank. On Goodreads, you’ll sometimes notice a little rank of sorts. Some of the reviewers on there are ranked by top users, best reviewers, librarians, readers, and more. Some of these are listed by country. I’ve found amazing reviewers that are from the US, UK, Netherlands, Canada and India.

6. Bloggers follow other bloggers. Sometimes instead of writing (it does happen) I’ll focus two or three hours just clicking on links on other bloggers site. I found about 30 links on one bloggers site last week. I found a WHOLE bunch of reviewers that were willing to read and review my book.

7. Always be nice. I cannot stress this enough. ALWAYS. BE. NICE. Just last week I submitted a book to a reviewer and I got a two star rating. It happens. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it SUCKED. But I’m not the type of person that will go around arguing with other people on the internet. But the reviewer remembered that I was nice (she even wrote it on her review, so for all I know I got an extra star just because of it). Anyway that’s the risk you take when you submit your book to be reviewed. Even when you follow the guidelines, and all the rules put into place that’s the risk. All you can do is hope that you get more good/positive reviews than negative ones.

8. Stay in touch. If you’re in this for the long haul (not just writing one book and then vanish in a puff of smoke) you’ll want to remember all the reviewers (if not all then at least most of them) that way you can submit your other books to them. Especially if you’re like me and you’re writing a series. It helps that you already know some reviewers that have read and enjoyed your past work. Even if it’s on twitter or facebook pop in and say ‘Hi’ every once in a while. Try to be sincere (people can smell a fake a mile away).

9.Thank you. When the reviewer has posted the review of your book (whether it’s positive or negative) stop by and leave a comment on their blog thanking them for taking the time to read and review your book. What they do takes up a lot of time and effort, they do it for free and for the love of books. It’s nice to know that they’re appreciated.

Anyway it would be great if I had another tip so it would make an even ten but this is all I have for now. I’ll also include a few links to some review sites to get you started. They’ve read and reviewed my book (so you know they have excellent taste in books). Good luck and may you receive many five star reviews!

 

Little Hyuts

http://bookwormrflects8.blogspot.com/

http://bound2astound.blogspot.com/

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Faerie Magazine Ad

Every once in a while I’ll save my pretty pennies and invest in a well placed ad. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. The point is that sometimes you just have to be willing to take a chance. You know what I mean? That having been said…I bought an ad at the Faerie Magazine website! And it looks so pretty! I love it. 🙂

Here’s a screenshot of it. 😀

faerie ad

It’s going to be there for three months and there’s a chance that they’ll even post an excerpt of Glass Frost on their blog. Keeping my fingers crossed. 😀

Anyway please check it out! 😀 http://www.faeriemag.com/

Gravely Inanimated ~ A Review

Okay…so I’m a writer. Not really a reviewer. LOL So when I fall in love with a book the only things that usually come out of my mouth are ‘Oh my God, it was amazing. You have to read it.’ So please bare with me as I do my best to describe what Gravely Inanimated is about using my own words.

This novel was written by my new BFF and partner in crime (as far as festivals, fairs and conventions are concerned) Esther Wheelmaker.

Let me start by saying ‘Wow!’ This book completely took me by surprise (in a good way). The story is about Lucille Knight who is a young lady who’s still trying to figure out her place in the world, mainly in Victorian London. She worries about things like what to wear, have your father introduce you to a suitable suitor (whether you like it or not), tea time …oh and don’t get bitten by zombies on the way home.

This book was a mixture of Steampunk, Pride and Prejudice and Blade (except that it had zombies instead of vampires).

In the beginning of the story Lucy meets Aeron, when he saves her from a group of zombies from eating her brains. She’s a little stubborn at first but eventually once you realize why she’s the way she is, you warm up to her and root for her to fulfill her destiny.

Don’t want to say too much for fear of spoiling the book for anyone, but definitely give it a try. It’s a fun read that will keep you guessing til the very end.

Kindle

Nook

Learn more about Esther Wheelmaker and the Zombiepunk Series at her website http://www.zombiepunkseries.com/

Book signing tips

My friend Becky Palmer is getting ready for her very first book signing. I’m so excited for her. I remember my first book signing, it was about 10 years ago for my (out of print novel) Note to Self. Anyway, if you happen to be in the area Becky Palmer will be at the Smyrna Library on May 17th from 11AM to 1PM. She will be signing copies of her latest novel The Baltimore Butcher.

She asked me for some tips and I figured this would be a great chance to give everyone some tips for your next book signing.

 

  1. Smile. You want to seem approachable.
  2. Make eye contact. Let the person standing in front of you know that they have your full attention.
  3. Know your pitch. This is the biggest fail for some authors. You need to be able to tell people what your book is about. You can just stand there and say, “Ummm, it’s about…you know…stuff. And what happens…it has some scary parts…and some funny parts….” So please, please, PLEASE know your pitch. Memorize it. Practice with other people (friends, family members, your pets). Next time someone asks you “What’s your book about?” you need to be able to have the answer ready.
  4. Handouts/freebies. I’ve done just about everything when it comes to handouts and freebies. I’ve printed excerpts of my book and handed them out to people. Sometimes people throw them in the trash, other times people walk around the store, read the excerpt and turn around to buy my book. It’s an expense but sometimes it’s a necessary one. Also have bookmarks, business cards, stickers (if possible) to hand out. Business cards are essential because you never know what contacts you’ll make at these events. A book signing can lead to an invite to a school, library or book group. Make sure it has your information printed neatly and clearly (no crazy fonts that only you can read). The stickers are great because I can offer them to kids if they’re crying and they often cheer them up. And sometimes I’ll have a bowl of candy or chocolates (people love candy). 
  5. More freebies. I’ll also have fun gifts with purchase. I’ve given away stickers, crayons (with the cover of my book on the label) and everyone’s favorite…lip balms (with the cover of my book on the label). People love free stuff. 🙂
  6. Ask questions. If you have a person checking out your table, talk to them. Don’t just sit there staring at them. LOL Ask them if they’re having a good day. Are they avid readers? If so, what kind of books do they like to read? In case it’s not in the genre that your book is in, ask them if they know of someone that likes mystery, fantasy, horror, etc (whatever genre your book is).
  7. Have a good pen with you. I recommend a Sharpie pen (black or blue ink) to sign copies of your books.
  8. Plastic holders. You want to make sure your book is propped up and displayed so everyone can see the cover of your book. (I got some awesome ones at Staples).
  9. Depending at what time you schedule your book signing, pack a lunch or a snack. I always do and it has been a lifesaver.
  10. Create events on facebook and invite your friends and family. The more the merrier!!

I hope these tips help. Happy writing!

Bob…or The Velveteen Table

Today was the Maryland Faerie Festival. I want to take a moment to give special thanks to my dear friend Elizabeth Kolodziej for inviting me to this event. She and I have become fast friends (to the point that we share a brain…seriously) and she is so incredibly talented. She writes, makes jewelry, designs hats, made voodoo dolls and made glow in the dark fairy dust! I couldn’t believe it. I was like…when do you have time to do all that? She’s a tremendous author if you haven’t checked out Gravely Inanimated (written under her pen name Esther Wheelmaker), stop what you’re doing and pick up a copy now! It’s a fabulous book, a great blend of Steampunk and Zombies. I’m reading it right now and I can’t wait to finish it.

IMG_3714 copy

We always have fun together no matter where we go. And today was proof of that, you really have to laugh to keep from crying. Everything was great this morning. I got up in time (even though my alarm didn’t go off), showered, dressed and was ready to go at 7:30 AM on the dot. Elizabeth picked me up and off we went, to Darlington, MD. We chatted the entire drive up to the Faerie Festival, catching up on each other’s lives, talking about writing and other conventions that are coming up where she and I will share a table. Sharing laughs and giggles. I love LOVE hanging out with her.

An hour later we arrive at our destination (thank you GPS) and we found an employee that directed us to our vendor space. Between a tree and a tree stump. No table…no tent…no chairs. They never told us that we needed to bring our own stuff. I was like….uhhhh….what do we do now? :/

This was a make it work moment. Luckily, Elizabeth had some blankets in her car so we did our best to set our stuff up kind of like a picnic. And then I decided that we had enough stuff to make our own table.

This is what we ended up with. LOL Two plastic carrying cases, a banner and duct tape. We were desperate.

table

We managed to get one of the volunteers to snag us a couple chairs (my butt was grateful). Then for two hours or so we did the best we could. Then I noticed that a couple tents behind us there was a table and a bunch of chairs that NO ONE was using. I seriously obsessed over the table. I found another volunteer and asked her about it. Then she got sidetracked with other duties so I had to find someone else to help us. With our powers combined, Elizabeth and I were able to turn our makeshift table into a real table.

We named it Bob. This is Bob…our table. The Velveteen Table…. 😀

bob

And he was magical. He brought us LOTS of people. We sold a bunch of our books until….it rained. Sigh. Thunderstorms. Seriously? After all the trouble we went through to get a table and chairs, it had to rain. :/

At first it was just a sprinkle. So we hid our books underneath Bob (our table) and set up again when the rain stopped. 20 minutes later it started to rain again…with a vengeance. So we decided to pack up for the day and go back home.

But…I still had a blast. We saw a yellow fairy, a brown unicorn, a faun walking on stilts, a giant trying to kill fairies (I was one of the ones that got killed LOL Lucky for me it was a very soft hammer), and little mini ponies. I will post more pictures soon.

And here I am with butterfly wings on my eyes and my new fairy wings made by Pixi Doll from Crone Designs.

fairy me

Every time we go out into the world it’s an adventure!

But seriously, tomorrow we will be ready. Kurt (my awesome husband) bought me and Elizabeth a tent, I have my table and a chair and we’ll be awesome!

Free Comic Book Day Recap

Saturday, May 3rd 2014 I was at Captain Blue Hen Comics to help celebrate Free Comic Book Day. It was awesome on so many epic levels! It’s one of the things I love about comic book stores. They celebrate the love of art and comic books. Cosplayers were welcome with open arms and it was just a wonderful day of celebrating superheroes, Star Wars in a safe place where no one would judge you. Love it. 🙂

Anyway I got a chance to unveil Zombie Ever After to the public for the very first time and show everyone what Mik, Lynn and I have been working our butts off to put together. FYI Issue #1 is almost finished. 4 more pages and it’ll be complete!

Also got a chance to sell my books First Frost and Glass Frost. I sold about 9-10 copies of both books (had a 2 for $20 deal) and that worked to my advantage. 🙂

I also got to get my picture taken with a stormtrooper and Darth Vader (who was very nice and polite for a sith lord).

stormtrooper

darth vader

So many friends and family came by to show their support of me and my new comic book.
Mark Z. (ZEA is dedicated to him), my brother Pablo, Joanne M. Reinbold, Justynn Tyme, Shannon Connor Winward (with babycakes in her belly), Greg Schauer, Tom Mullin, & Leon Opio. Also special thanks to my big brother George, my Uncle Ralfi, Mom and my husband Kurt for taking care of my kids that day (on another note I had to leave a little early because was so upset that I was gone all day that he made himself sick -then he felt better then moment I walked through the door).

Anyway still…Free Comic Book Day was a hit! Already called Captain Blue Hen and thanked them for inviting me to be a part of such a fantastic event and they’re looking forward to having me come back in October when ZEA is finally released. 🙂

YEY!! So what comics did you pick up on Free Comic Book Day?