My Title: AUTHOR!

As I go into NaNoWrimo on Thursday, there is a lot I have been thinking about.

How many of the participants are traditional writers and how many are self published writers? But when you break it all down....does it matter?

That is what is so great about NaNoWrimo! It brings the writing community together for ONE COMMON GOAL!


But (yes, you know I always have a but), it goes deeper than that for me.

There is a forum in the NaNoWrimo for Indie Authors. BUT why?

Is that divide still there? Has my head still stuck under the cover and not paying attention to the world of authors?

Good for me! My head is stuck in the interaction with my readers and that is where it should be. My readers don't care if I'm self published or traditionally published, they only care that they can get their hands on one of my books.

As I wake up in the morning, NOVEMBER 1st, and sit down at my computer, I will not have the thought of "I'm an indie author or self published author." I will have the thought of my readers in my mind, creating words that will flow through my fingertips, and spill out over the white screen of my computer.

And on DECEMBER 1st, I will wake up with a smile on my face, ready to face the first round of layering and revisions of the 50k words that I just wrote WITH MY READERS IN MIND.

CHEERS!~to a great writing month!

To check out my tips on making it through NaNoWrimo, check out my blog post from Monday!

Tips To Help Get You Through NaNoWriMo

This is the BIG week, and I don't mean Halloween! But that is a GREAT reason to celebrate!!

I'm talking about the 1st of November. Do you know what that means to THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND of authors?



Every year, thousands of writers make a commit to get at least 50k words completed on their manuscript. That comes out to be a little under 1700 words a day.

1700 words? Easy!

Not so much! It's actually harder than you think. But I have some tips that might help get you through. After all, I'm a three time winner, full time mom of three-teenage boys, wife, full time day job, mom to three four-legged creatures, and friend to many, so I might know a few tips to help you out.

1) Tell everyone you interact with that you are participating!

I mean EVERYONE! This way they know that you are so busy with your free time that you don't have time to go to Macy's for that after Thanksgiving day sale. You have to treat this like it's a work project.

Head on over to the NaNoWriMo website and sign up! This is a peer pressure month for writers who are participating and having peers that you can rely on is a great way to make it through!

I have a few local writer friends who do participate and we have a meet at 9 pm meeting at an all night dinner where we hang out and write, write, write. It's great to have the support.

On the home front I have all planned meals. It doesn't take me long to write 1700 words, so I do have some free time, but it sure makes it easier to have the meals planned ahead. If you have a family and obligations like I do, make sure you have a supportive significant other that will run the kids here and there when need be.

2) Manuscript!

This is why you are here! Now....we only have a few days, so you should know your story/plot.  This is really a pansting activity for me, which means that I have a general story line, and characters, but I have no idea where they are going to take me. So I'm not so strict on an outline, but it's great to have an idea of the beginning, middle, and end.

3) Goals!

If you are like me and have other commitments, you have to manage your time! That is the biggest hurdle I have to overcome. I do this by making a daily realistic goal and this includes the weekends. I might make my daily goal 1500 words, but weekends I might do 2k a day. This is an example so I'm not even sure if the math adds up to 50k, but you get the picture.

4) Write, write, write!

You have to be flexible with your attitude. You might be one of those writers who have to edit as you go....DO NOT DO THIS WITH NANOWRIMO!

Write! Get the story on the page. If you have gotten to the end of your story, go back and add a twist. Don't worry if it doesn't flow because you are going to go back and edit anyways. This is the time to just write what your heart desires. You have to freedom! Isn't it great and doesn't it feel good to have that freedom???

5) Use the NaNoWriMo Website!

Go into the forums. Give support to others that are struggling! Take advantage of adding the words you have completed to your word count ticker!

There is nothing more motivating to getting to your goal then seeing that ticker closer and  closer to 50k! It really sings to my muse!

So what do you say? LET'S DO THIS!! Together!! Come on over to NaNoWriMo and friend me! I will support you!!

Find me on Facebook too! I'm going to be posting inspirational photos daily to help get us through it!!

A Writer's Greatest Learning Tool

OBSERVATION is A Writer's Greatest Learning Tool

Train yourself to observe

Whether your a writer, artist, or storyteller in other media, one of the greatest skills you can develop is keen observation. There are many who see, but who lack vision, and there are still others who have vision but lack the ability to constructively communicate that vision to others. If you are to become a good or even great storyeller, you must be able to observe, and observe in detail.

Observing is more than just looking

Ever meet someone who can glance at a scene for a few moments and then tell you a great number of details? Some people do this naturally, but most have developed this ability, deliberately or not, over time. It's one thing to look, it's another to really SEE. One way to develop this ability is to spend some time at an ordinary place and start keeping track of what's going on. An intersection or a bus stop can be useful.At first, keep it simple, like getting a good image of what the place looks like, then start counting how many people/animals/cars pass through. As time goes by, start paying attention to the various details, e.g., appearance of people, the kinds of cars going by, and so on. Over time you will start to notice differences in how people talk, walk, and gesture, types of shoes, etc. It can also help to take a snapshot once every so often, perhaps even from different angles.

If you're an artist, you better carry a sketchpad of some sort with you everywhere you go. You don't have to sit and create the world's greatest life drawing, but it will help to use your sketchbook to train yourself to catch the details and subtleties of movement, mood, lighting, etc. I know of one artist who spent a whole year drawing stick figures to train his figure composition skills to great effect.

Become a people watcher. Try not to be creepy about it, some people won't react well to what they think is some leering perv staring at their every move, and some may like it too much. Start with individuals, just focus on a few details at first, like movement or mannerisms, and soon the other details will become easier to retain and capture.

Watch movies, particularly some of the classics, like the Hitchcock thrillers. Use your pause button and you will find yourself learning a lot about setting a scene, mood, etc just through camera angles, establishing shots, and composition.

What is the sound of a captive audience?

Another, very overlooked aspect of observation training when it comes to comics (and a good deal of other kinds of literature) is listening. It is entirely possible to depict very distinct dialects and 'voices' without making your work look like it was written by someone with very bad grammar and spelling. In some cases bad grammar might be necessary, But it is usually overdone. Don't just listen to sounds, but observe the actions connected to and resulting from those sounds... the way a pickup's bed sways and the cargo rattles as it goes over some rocks, or the way a person flinches when there's a sudden noise. These can be used to create be dstinct, defining scenes that will give your stories more gravity in your reader/viewer's mind.

These principles can be applied to all the senses, and while your readers will probably never smell or taste your work, being conscious of the involvement of all the senses and emotions in the common and every day will better enable you to weave tales that will draw your readers in and capture their attention.

Sam Medina is an American writer from New Jersey. He is the creator of the popular award-winning webcomic series Jake the Evil Hare, and Darkfell: The Fetters of Wizardry. He received his BA from Princeton, and afterward served in the United States Marine Corps before going on to work as a stockbroker for a number of years, after which he founded started a wireless ISP company, and then opened a consulting firm which he operated until 2009, when he went began writing full-time with Jake the Evil Hare.
Social Media Links:

Tiberr OVERLOAD! #promotip

Triberr Overload! #promotip

A few months ago, Rachelle graciously made a quick visit here and informed us all about Triberr and how to use it! Today she's back and giving us an update on the changes of Triberr.
I posted several months ago about Triberr, a service that allows a group of people to read and share blog posts through Twitter. When I first started using Triberr, oh, not so long ago, I started my own tribe, Indie Authors and filled it with people I knew from blogging and critiquing. Since my tribemates oftentimes knew each other from other venues, we had a small and intimate, well, tribal feel. We'd visit and comment on posts as well as forwarded to our Twitter streams.

I always had an open door policy and kept my tribe healthy by encouraging reciprocation. Some members lost interest and left. Others who did not want to spam their Twitter followers also left. Back then it cost "bones" to invite a member who was already in Triberr. They called it inbreeding. Even though chiefs had to purchase bones, it was a good system because people would think before inviting someone to their tribe. Tribes were also capped at thirty members.

Triberr Explosion
In September, the bone system was discontinued. Suddenly you can invite people without cost. A Prime membership was created where chiefs could have tribes with up to 150 members. Predictably, an invitation explosion ensued. People I didn't know were inviting me. I was inviting others I didn't know. A new feature called "Follower" status was introduced. This allowed people to lurk outside of the tribe, share the posts, and ask to gain membership.

Is this a good thing? If I look at stats I could be thrilled. I went from:

to this:

But along the way, I lost my sense of community. My stream became clogged with new faces and new people. I diligently checked out their blogs and shared their posts. I dialed my share schedule to the maximum allowed (3 posts an hour). Do the math! 3 posts an hour = 72 posts a day maximum. I now have 269 tribemates. Some of them post multiple times a day. Everytime I log on, my stream is full and I'm always behind.

Some of my tribemates have time sensitive posts, a giveaway or free event. This could get lost in the queue and not sent until days into the future. With the pile of unsent but approved posts, Triberr's database became overloaded. They started aging out posts, dumping packets into the bit bucket. I started missing my initial tribemates' posts only to find them gone by the time I got to it.

The intimate small tribe had grown into a communal hive. I no longer had time to visit and comment, just click, approve, click, approve. And what happened to my twitter feed?,, ... ad nauseum.

The million dollar question - Did you blog hits improve?
No! Even with the increased tribemates, increased sharing and 24 by 7 posts, my blog pageviews did not increase like they did when I first joined Triberr. My Alexa rating is still in the 360,000 range, and I did not see an increase in average pageviews.

Why is that? Simple. My tribemates were also on overload. They could not keep up with the multitude, the flood, the deluge of posts. Their queues were backed up and posts were dropped after five days. And now that Triberr has instituted a daily 100 post limit (still > 72/daily potential), even more of my blog posts will submerge into the ocean of timed-out posts.

What to do?
I'm taking back my tribal roots. Triberr has always had a "Filter" feature. I had always set it to "Show All Tribes." Because I am now limited to 100 posts a day, I will start with the posts from my two personal tribes: "Indie Authors" and "Writer's Karma." I will get in as many posts as I can of my other tribes and pay attention to the reciprocality statistic. Those who have shared more will be shared first. Then the folks I'm even with. If this doesn't work, I will drop out of tribes until I get my tribemate number down to where it is manageable.
So that's my Triberr story. What about you? Do you like the new changes? The supertribes? Are you a paying Prime member? What do you think of the impersonal automatic sharing feature? And is all of this defeated when you can only share 72 posts a day?

Be sure to check out Rachelle's blog for more great tips on writing!
Check out Rachelle's novels for some really great reads!!

Are You Painting Your Picture with Basic Crayolas or the 64-Pack? Using Personal Experience to Enrich Your Story-Telling

PLEASE let's give a BIG welcome to guest blogger ANNE MARIE STODDARD! When I asked her to guest blog, I never knew that it would be this fabulous!!! Be sure to check out her links at the end of this blog!

 I've never been much of a blogger (although I definitely pumped out a good angsty Live Journal and Xanga post or two back in my early college years--but those don't exactly count, now, do they?).  They say that not only should writers write every single day--we should blog too.  But about what?  How many posts about writing advice can you read before they all start to run together like a box of melted crayons? 

          Tonight, I'd like to mix it up a little bit.  Forget the "do's" and "don'ts" of how to  get published or market the perfect novel (Don't worry--there will be *plenty* more of those posts to come, but not tonight, buddy!).  Right now, I'm in the mood to talk about what fuels my writing (be it good or bad quality content), and how I got started writing again after taking a nearly 12-year hiatus.

          When I was younger, as far back as kindergarten, all I wanted to do was become a published author.  I spent playtime in kindergarten writing two- or three-page stories about the Easter Bunny (complete with illustrations brought to you by my imagination and a 64-pack of Crayola crayons--I even busted out the fancier shades like "Cornflower," "Timberwolf," and "Purple Mountain's Majesty"  If you've never colored in your sun or stars using "Macaroni & Cheese," you haven't lived, my friend!)  After the Easter Bunny, it was crazy witch stories, then  straight-up horror stories.

          I'll never forget the first full-length story I wrote.  3rd grade, Halloween, Mrs. Oliver's class at Southside Elementary.  The story was called "The Headless Prankster," and bless ol'  Mrs. Lisa's heart--I'm pretty sure she didn't read through the story before she decided to read it out loud to the class.  I have quite a few memories of watching scary movies with my dad and brother from in between the cracks of my fingers as I covered my eyes, and I guess some of those must have rubbed off on me, because my story was remarkably vivid and dark for a nine-year-old. 

          "The Headless Prankster" was about six teenagers (three girls and three boys, of course) who were camping out in the woods when--oh no!--suddenly a storm came and washed their tents away!  On that cliche dark and stormy night those kids found a house out in the woods with one light on upstairs.  One by one they each went into the house, never to return.  When the final teen made it into the house, what did she find?  (Here comes the icky part--seriously, what business did a third grader have writing this mess?)  What else?  A room with a bed, where each of the other teen's bodies lay, and each of their heads was on a pillow.  Oh yeah, and there was also a headless monster with holding a bloody scythe. I'll never forget the sound of Mrs. Oliver's voice when she read the next line to the class, the only line from my own story that has stuck with me for nineteen years:  "With of swoop of his ax, the Headless Prankster cut off her head, and it flew through the air, landing face-up on the last pillow."  That story was many things--but the one thing it most definitely was:  colorful.

          For the record, I don't need therapy.  I just had an extremely overactive imagination back then.  I went on to write a few more scary stories in sixth grade (I'll save those for another time, perhaps), but once I joined our middle school's band, my writing life was put on the shelf like an old forgotten paperback.  I stayed in band all the way through my fifth year of college, and--with the exception of the aforementioned Live Journal/Xanga posts and some incredible angsty post break-up poetry in twelfth grade, I haven't really written since until last year when I began "Murder At Castle Rock."  And you know what?  While sometimes I regret all the years I spent not writing, at the same time...I'm glad I didn't.

Now, hear me out.  I know authors say "WRITE EVERY DAY!!"  Well, NOW I am trying to do that---but those unwritten twelve years of my life? They were a gift to my present author self:  They were LIFE EXPERIENCE.  I'm not saying my life OR my writing are necessarily best-selling material, but I know for a fact that my fiction and dialogue are more interesting because of the personal experiences I draw from when I write them. 

          I'm currently writing a mystery series set in the music industry in Atlanta, Ga, and it fits for me because I actually did work in the music industry in Atlanta.  I've created a fictional world that is an altered reality to the music venues I also worked at in Athens, GA in college.  In that world I've created rock stars, venue employees, and even a radio station based on rock stars I've met, people I've worked with, and a culmination of the many radio stations I've worked for.  There is even a scene in my upcoming novel, "Murder At Castle Rock," that is very closely drawn from a real-life experience that I happened to me when (*spoiler alert!*) I nearly wrecked a radio station's cargo van while driving back from a promotional event. My stories wouldn't be nearly as colorful without those years I spent storing up the "Timberwolf" grays, "Cornflower" blues, and "Purple Mountain's Majesties" of my real life to use for later. I wouldn't have it any other way. 

          If you're new to writing, or even if you aren't and you just took a long hiatus like I did, fear not:  In all those years you weren't writing, YOU LIVED.  Now, don't just use your basic 8-pack of colors to tell a bland, unimaginative story--reach into that 64-pack of Crayolas that is your memory bank and draw from those personal experiences.  Feel free to embellish as much or as little as you like, but remember how real those times were for you, and try to capture that on paper.  I can almost guarantee you'll get a better story out of it.

 Anne Marie Stoddard used to work in radio, and it rocked.  She goes to concerts like it's her job--because sometimes, it actually is.  After studying Music Business at the University of Georgia, Anne Marie has worked for several music venues, radio stations, and large music festivals, and  she currently creates promotional contests and writes music trivia for a media company. Aside from all things music, she loves college football, anything-pumpkin flavored, and a good mystery. Anne Marie recently is the winner of the 2012 Decatur Book Festival & BookLogix, Inc. Writing Contest for her manuscript for "Murder At Castle Rock," a music industry murder mystery.  It will be published in the coming months and will be her first full-length novel. 

For more information and updates on Anne Marie's work and the release of "Murder At Castle Rock," like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter:

How To Get Reviews For Your Novel

I don't care what anyone are important.

I hear a lot of authors that say they don't rely on reviews to read their books and they are full of it. That is why we have reviews and review sites like Goodreads, right?

I'm not saying that you have to read the reviews your novel gets, but reviews are important. They will help you market your novel, especially if you are self published.

Nowadays, more and more review sites are accepting self published authors to review. So you better be sure that your book is the best it can possibly be or you won't get the reviews you want.

Regardless, you need reviews.

Here are a few ways I get reviews for my novels:

1) Goodreads giveaways.

Taking advantage of the giveaway on Goodreads is a great way to get reviews. I offer three copies of my book when it's released using this Goodreads feature. I hold the giveaway for a month and get thousands of requests.

Once Goodreads announces the three winners, I send them a book copy from Createspace and I'm done. They promise a honest review. More importantly what I have found is that I'm getting review requests from people who entered and did not win, or they have gone ahead and bought the book and reviewed it anyways.

Good or bad, all reviews are welcome!

2) Press kit and reader review sites.

With every book, I create a press kit for it. I include a bio, head shot, cover photo of book, blurb, and all my links. That way the reviewer has everything at their fingertips. Easy peasy.

Here are a few sites: 

3) USE Amazon!

Did you know that Amazon has a link to all it's top reviewers?? And did you know that you can contact them?


Reviewers are sometimes more accepting than the book blogger and it's a valuable place where your books need to be reviewed. So  check them out! Go through their biographies and pick out the Amazon reviewers that fit the genre of your novel.

4) Use your Street Team! Your Street Team is composed of your loyal readers/followers/fans and they are the ones that is spreading the word about you and your novel, so they should be reviewing your books. Not in a sock puppet way (like a family or friend review who think every word you write is amazing!) . They should be encouraged to write an honest review, good or bad.

Reviews are very controversial. Some authors say they don't matter, but I say they do!

How To Heal Your Burned Out Self

This blog was taken from Author Shelli Johnson's blog

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~ Howard Thurman, civil rights leader

Well, I came across that quote the day before I left for vacation. First off, if you like water, sand, and the sound of waves, the beach will go a long way toward healing your burned-out self. It’s been a rough year for me. I won’t go into all the details; suffice it to say that I hope I don’t ever have to go through a year like that again. So by the time I got to the beach, emotionally and spiritually I felt a bit battered and bruised. I spent the week thinking about that quote. Being a journalist, I started asking myself questions, a kind of self-interview. You can do the same. Here’s what I came up with:

Where I had coffee every morning.
Who are you living and doing and making choices for? Is it for you?Sadly, for me at least, the answer is often for other people (kids, spouse, relatives, friends, strangers even), which doesn’t leave me fired up about my life. Look, I know you need to think about others. Everybody drills that into you from the time you’re a little kid. But if helping everyone else at the expense of yourself makes you feel dead inside: 1. how are you gonna be able to help anybody else? and 2. what kind of life is that?
What matters most to you (not what someone else would like for your life)? What do you most want to be doing with your life? What is your heart telling you? If you get quiet, I guarantee you, it’s saying something. And then the question becomes: Are you going to listen? What’s keeping you from that (hint: what’s your biggest fear)?
When are you going to look at your life as yours & give yourself permission to be who you want to be, to do what you want to do? When will you realize that your life is passing you by as you wait for the “right time”? Hint: The “right time” is right now. When will you choose faith over fear?
Where do you need to be to pursue your passion? Where do you feel alive? Do you love coming home? Do you love your work space? If not, why not? What do you need to do to change how you feel? I ask these questions because I made a choice once to live in a place where I ended up being miserable. It’s hard to feel alive and creative when you’re unhappy just being where you are.
Why does this even matter? Because I believe that Thurman was right: the world needs people who have come alive. Feeling alive and excited about your life makes you generous and happy and motivated. It inspires the people around you to do/be the same. It also matters because I don’t think you’ll want to get to the end of your life and say, “Whew, I’m glad I risked so little.” I dunno, maybe you will; I hope not to.

Another view from our rented beach house.
Your heart knows quite clearly what it is that makes you feel alive. But it’s also very hard to hear when you’re in a battered and burned-out state. So slow down. Slow way down.Take as much off your plate as you can. Put yourself at the top of your to-do list. Then get quiet. Very quiet.Be open and listen. The answers are there.
I also came across this these lines (which I love) by the 13th-century poet Rumi, who wrote:
Let yourself be silently drawnby the stronger pull of what you really love.
Are you living a life that makes you feel fully alive? If not, why not? And more importantly, what are you going to do about it? Please feel free to share your thoughts & experiences in the comment box below.

Follow me @Shelli_Johnson
To find me on Facebook, just click here.
To find me on Google+, just click here.
To connect with me on Goodreads, just click here.

The Secret To Publishing


A year for what?? I'm glad you asked! It's been a year since I decided to blog and blog three times a week!! Happy BLOGAVERSARY to me!!

A year ago I was receiving over 100 emails a week from writers asking me from: how my books made the best sellers lists so quickly after they were released, what do you do to market, how do you reach your target audience of readers, etc....

That is when I decided I was tired of answering those emails and wanted a place to send the writers. This blog was my idea! I have covered almost every single topic that I do to make my career a success.  There isn't a magic formula, but I can promise you that it's been consistency.

Consistency....Consistency is the secret to publishing!


On this anniversary, CONSISTENCY is going to be my new word going forward into this next year of blogging.

How does that equal NOVEL SUCCESS?

As writers we know that we can't wave a magic wand and mysteriously get words on a page, we have to do one thing....

SIT OUR BUTT IN THE CHAIR AND WRITE. Plain and simple as that. Nothing more, nothing less.  i can guarantee that if you don't put your butt in the chair, you will not succeed, you will fail. No matter how much advice I have provided you on this blog, it will NEVER work for you if you don't sit your butt in the chair and write.

Just like this blog. I had to consistently plan Sunday night, Tuesday night, and Thursday night a topic to blog on. I had to come home after working my day job, get my guys to their after school functions (plus sporting events and games), cook dinner, do laundry, dr. appt (because all my guys have to go to monthly ortho and dermatologist appt), four legged children needs (we walk at least two miles a day), and every other thing I do. Guess have those same set of obstacles or more! Which means that all writers have the same issues. No matter if they are a best seller or not! Everyone has issues.

I was consistent with my time and schedule and fulfilled my quest to not only put out four novels and blog three times a week! And my family survived through it all!

Over the next  couple of months I will be blogging only once or twice a week. I participate in NANOWRIMO and get my publishing schedule for 2013 ready. Blogging here does take up about five hours of my weekly time and I'm going to be spending that time in November to participate in NANOWRIMO.

I have guest blogs that I will be putting up and if you would like to guest blog, please check out the guest blog tab on top. I know that each and everyone of you have something to add to our little community here.

So go ahead:

1) Put your butt in the chair with a few goals in mind. Put on a timer starting for ten minutes and just write. Don't go back and edit. Just write for ten minutes! Take a break and go back and write for another ten minutes.

2) Surround yourself with like-minded people. I want you to reach out for support on Facebook, writing loops, people who are going to encourage you to continue on your goals and road to publication.

3) Look at your writing as a career. If you have a day job, you have to show up everyday in order to get a paycheck or NOT to get fired. Same with writing! Show up everyday!

If you want to succeed, you have to show up everyday and perform. OR your readers will fire you.


The Low-Down of Book Reviews for Indie Authors

The Low-Down of Book Reviews for Indie Authors

Book reviews are as critical as a heart transplant.  Without the pulsation you might as well be deceased.  For traditional publishers, acquiring book reviews mean mailing out hundreds of books to newspaper reviewers, and hope that a certain percentage will take the time to review, and then hope the reviews are a good one.  For indie authors the process may be more time consuming, but by far and large it opens up the restrictions and narrow-mindedness big publishers tend to hold onto.  What I refer to as the restrictions and narrow-mindedness are missed opportunities by reaching out to bloggers and other non-professional reviewers who use Amazon, Barnes & Noble, GoodReads, Smashwords, Ning, and the like to post their reviews.   

Online book reviewers are becoming more viral; more substantiated than the conventional sources because their posts will always be out there as long as the reviewer stays open for business.  Plus, with the voting systems, if feels more democratic and less tyrannical than that of the one bad review!

Method of Reviews

In essence, there are three methods of reviews you can acquire: buying them, growing them organically, and swapping them.  One method doesn’t necessarily enhance your status more than the other, although juggling the three certainly can help establish it.


There is much debate about whether to purchase reviews or not.  On the one side of the debate questions the morality of things.  If reviews are bought, does that make them legitimate?  There are places where you can buy positive reviews only, (although I still have yet to find those places); however, in my experiences, the reviews I bought were fair because some reviewers revealed their complaints and did not rate my book as high.  So to question the legitimacy of bought reviews will depend on the legitimacy of the business itself. Many will state that they will not guarantee positive reviews, for instance, and how long have they been in business will determine if they are legit.  There are “fly-by-night” reviewers who at some point will be banned and have their reviews revoked once found out.

The other side of the debate supports buying reviews because it facilitates your reputation and can provide exposure.   Some of these places will have diverse outlets such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads.  And that’s really the goal all writers wish to achieve: popularity.  I started reaching out to bloggers before having at least 8 reviews and only received one reply.  After establishing at least 8 reviews, with some bought, (including Kirkus Reveiws,) in order to acquire credibility, then bloggers started agreeing to review my book for free.  That may not be true for everyone experiences, but it was for me.

Now then, how much do these paid reviews cost? The costs vary and you could verily easily spend anywhere from $50 per review to over $400 per review, depending on the reviews status and outlet margin.

You can check out a list of reviewers on my blog here; just under blog tours.  Some are free and some you have to pay:


You can reach out to bloggers and other book reviewers on Amazon and GoodReads for free.  Some will ask for pay, but they generally do not because they are readers who have enthusiasm for reading.  They are not professional critics, but are intelligent and thoughtful folks who take the time in their busy lives to share their passions.

The Business Side of Soliciting for Reviews

At one point in my life, I was a real estate agent- briefly- and got out just after the housing market crash.  One of the things I learned, which is true in any business, is what’s called “the number’s game.”  You reach out to 50 people, and out of the 50 you’ll get about 10 people who express interest in your abilities but will only get about 1 or 2 who’ll actually commit and sign a contract.  On the business side of hunting down reviews, you reach out 50 book reviewers, and out of 50 you’ll get about 10 who express interest in reviewing your work, but will actually get a few who’ll actually commit and write a review.  Just be psychologically prepared for this, and have realistic expectations.

Don’t forget to look and see if they keep a blog roll.  If so, then you connect to more bloggers!  Keep that ball rolling, baby!


Since they do not get paid, they are often swamped with requests, and therefore may take anywhere from 1-4 months to finally getting around reading and posting a review. Be polite, and take the time to see if they will be a good fit for your book(s).  If they agree to review your book and you hadn’t heard from them in over 3 to 4 months, then send a polite follow-up. DO NOT harass them with frequent emails! This will begin to look like spamming and you will most likely turn them off, and therefore, they will turn off your emails.

You can check out a list of bloggers on my blog here; just under book reviewers:


Have you ever been to a swap meet?  It’s a gathering at which enthusiasts or collectors trade or exchange items of common interest.  The same thing can apply when swapping reviews for authors.  This method serves two purposes: helping you collect more book reviews while helping others achieve the same goal.  You can do so with online author communities as well as helping other writer friends within your own community.  This method is a bit more reliable than asking your family and social friends to provide feedback because area of interests are often different, and you most likely will attain a more comprehensive review regarding plot and character development.

You can check out a list of indie author communities on my blog here; at the very top of the page under resources, and just under blogger book reviewers at the bottom:

*If you would like to swap reviews with me, my interests are for historical fiction, (no romance historical fiction, please,) literary fiction, memoirs, and even non-fiction.  I am on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and GoodReads. I accept ebooks in mobi, epub & PDF forms. I am on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and GoodReads. Contact me here:

Fake Reviews: The illegitimate critics

What exactly are fake reviews?  Fake reviews are anonymous identities that open up phony accounts in order to praise or criticize online books.  On the positive side of the spectrum they can either be authors praising themselves, or they are bought reviews from illegitimate businesses. (And I do want to place emphasis on illegitimate businesses because there are legitimate ones that do provide a fair trade.  Just do your homework and ask other veteran writers for advice.) On the negative side, they can be either other authors criticizing their opponents, or other people who just simply have malice intent to leave a 1 star review to bring down your review status.

So, revisiting the debate about paid reviews you end up asking yourself: “Do paid reviews in fact represent fake reviews? Or at least on Amazon?”  The three services I used, Kirkus Reveiws, Bookplex and Self Publish Review, I found to be fair.  They use other bloggers and authors to represent their businesses’ reviews.  Although the reviews mostly did come in a positive light, but I did not get that perfect 5 star rating, plus the reviewers did mention what they didn’t like or had certain issues with some of the content. All I can stress upon when making that investment is to use common sense, do your research, and ask other seasoned authors for advice.

To read more about “fake reviews,” check out these articles:

Forbes: “Fake Reviews: Amazon’s Rotten Core”

The Telegraph: “Fake Book Reviews are Rife on Internet Authors”

Business Insider: “This Man Made $28,000 a Month Writing Fake Book Reviews”


Pace yourself when researching and soliciting for book reviews. Don’t try to cram everything into one session.  Space out days of the month to research for bloggers or swap book reviews.  Also put yourself on a budget.  You really don’t need to spend your mortgage in order to acquire book reviews.  There are always other avenues. And remember, as exhausting and frustrating as this process may sound, it still beats getting rejected by agents and/ or publishers who won’t take on your project.  At least you’re out there!

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