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6 + Tips for Getting Book Reviews

book reviews.pngSo you wrote and published a book? Next step: Get some reviews! (Hopefully positive ones!)

Without at least 10 reviews on Amazon, most folks won’t be interested in buying the product. That said, soliciting book reviews for a newly published book is a delicate process. I’m on the upward swing of the learning curve as we speak, but I’ve had some pretty fantastic feedback so far. Here’s some of the tricks I’ve picked up.

  1. Use your network – ask your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, dog-walkers…
  2. Offer free copies of the book to reviewers!
  3. Make it easy: In your emails/messages include the link to the pages where you need reviews posted
  4. Follow up review requests and gifted books in a couple weeks with a tactful reminder (e.g. what did you think of the book?)
  5. Although it’s definitely not ethical to ask for a good review, asking people to leave a review if they liked the book is perfectly reasonable
  6. Work the social media groups – Facebook offers some fantastic groups of writers, business entrepreneurs, work-from-home parents, illustrators, etc.

Through groups like the above mentioned I’ve found professional reviewers as well as willing individuals to write reviews in exchange for free books.

Here are some of the wonderful reviewers who have helped me out so far with my children’s books Jungle Kings and Awesome Kindness: A Story of Friendship

Most of all, while you are seeking reviews, keep writing and drawing! That next book is just waiting for you to put it out there.

It’s Pencil Day! 5 Art Materials You Don’t Remember You Have

I am a danger to my bank account whenever I go into a craft supply or art store. Online shopping for art materials is nearly as dangerous…

I decided to stop and remind myself of the art materials I have ready access to. We moved last year and have yet to discard the vast majority of boxes from the unpacking process, so you may notice a recurring theme… Ready to get inspired?

  • Cardboard
    • Build a castle – toilet paper tube turrets, egg carton draw bridge, the whole nine yards
    • Design a family crest, make a shield, a helmet, a full set of plate box armor… to go with the castle of course.
    • Big box? Climb inside and color!
Child sitting in box, drawing with crayons.
Climb on in and get creative!
  • Beans/rice/pasta (the dry ones that have been in the cupboard for longer than you want to think about…)
    • Attach to cardboard with a little Elmer’s glue for mosaics. For an example: WeeFolkArt
  • Coffee
    • Believe it or not there’s some pretty AMAZING coffee painting out there! Use it on heavier paper (or cardboard!) with a brush, just like ink or watercolors! For an example: BoredPanda
  • Old clothes/rags/sheets
    • Braided rugs – this one requires some extra equipment (i.e. a sewing machine or needle, thread and patience). I want to try it though. For an example: LittleHouseLiving
    • Simple stuffed animals (I love making horses out of out-worn jersey gloves)
    • Sock puppets (use cardboard here again to great effect!)
  • Plastic containers

Some of these are more DIY projects than arts, but perhaps there’s something here for everyone: Artist to parent to recycling enthusiast.

Self-reflection on this post: Many of these ideas seem very upper middle class, upon closer inspection. Most assume access to basic materials such as glue, scissors, crayons/markers, needle and thread, but more importantly, they require time. The poverty experienced by many families is most crushing in its limitation of the most invaluable resource: time. Time to reflect. Time to imagine. Time to create.

Even poetry requires more than a pencil and paper. It requires time.

10 Places to Look for Inspiration

For anyone creative out there… ten places to look for inspiration.

  1. In a book! Go read for half an hour (yes, everything else can wait). Better yet, visit the library. Read something you might not normally read. Check out a book from the nonfiction section on a new subject.
  2. In the woods, by a lake, in a park, up a tree, under a log… Take a hike.
  3. At a museum, the zoo, or an art gallery
  4. In your friend’s lives (check out their social media!)
  5. In music (listen to something new)
  6. In a child’s imagination – ask them to tell you a story
  7. At a bird feeder
  8. In an arboretum or garden (see if you can discover a new kind of plant)
  9. In an elder’s memories (ask a friend or family member over the age of 75 to tell you about their childhood)
  10. Look up! You might see a story unfold right in front of you.

10 Easy Ways to Use Social Media to Encourage Writers and Illustrators

Awesome Kindness Cover_sm.pngBasic:

Costs nothing, connects people, helps writers/illustrators become known

  1. Follow them on Twitter
  2. Like and Share their Facebook pages/posts
  3. Follow and read their blogs

Intermediate:

Still no cost, minimal time required, breaks through some of the silent “void” author/illustrators often feel when posting on social media about their work

  1. Share a link to their book/art on your favorite social media platforms
  2. Recommend their book to libraries and book stores when you visit
  3. Comment on their blogs

Awesome:

Minimal cost, some time required, a desire to read is useful at this level of engagement

  1. Buy their book/art! (Buy local if you can – locally owned book stores are struggling!) Share your actions on social media.
  2. Buy the book on Amazon (If you go this route, see Above and Beyond)
  3. Recommend the book to a friend by sharing a link to buy the book with them on social media (or get it as a gift for them)

Above and Beyond:

Requires a copy of the book – you can ask an author/illustrator for a copy to review, believe me, they will be happy to help – and the time to both read the book and write a paragraph about the book

  1. Write a review!!!! Post your review on Amazon, Goodreads, and of course social media. Reviews, especially positive ones, are pure gold for newly published authors/illustrators. It’s almost impossible to sell books on Amazon without them.

If you’re looking for the books I’ve worked on recently, check out Jungle Kings and Awesome Kindness by Nancy Murphy and Mary Jo Sterling. Also Keep Eyes Behind by Beverlee Patton.

And if you’d like a copy to review, just let me know!