Paid Reviews Are Dishonest and Other Assumptions.

Not only do I have to take time to read the book– but I also must put pen to paper and write about it.

That’s a paid critic’s job.  Not leisure reading and reviewing.

Therefore, I seek payment.

But not always.

9 times out of 10, I don’t know the author, and the author has no clue what types of books interest me.  Then there’s that 10th author who gets it, but the journey unfolds as follows before she arrives.

“Without a relationship, there’s no expectation of performance.”

1) The first author wrote that she saw my review on Amazon for a similar book and offered to send me a digital copy of her book. I read it, but I’ve yet to write a review. It was a perfect book for how to move from the “friend zone” and into intimacy. There was a problem. The name on the book didn’t match the name of the woman requesting the review.  She never said she used a pseudonym.  It felt a bit tricky even though she assured me she was the author.  Still, I felt no urgency to move on to her request.  Without a relationship, there’s no expectation of performance.

“If you don’t walk your talk, why should I read your words.”

2) By the time I received the second review request – I realized how much time is involved in reviewing books; I probably wouldn’t have read independently. I responded I’d be happy to review his book for $125, my hourly consulting rate. It would take more than an hour to read and review his book, but I liked the subject matter. He wrote back and told me that he thought it would be dishonest to pay for a review, and Amazon frowns on that behavior. I cracked up…because his book’s thesis was about sticking it to authority.

Engagement and relationships are key to selling (Anything)

3) An author wrote and asked for a review…and I responded, “I don’t write for free” …  She wrote back, “Good answer! I love and respect that– and wish you all the very best :).”  The other day, about four months after she first contacted me, I thought about her books, and I bought one.


And that’s how marketing works.  The author contacted me and got my attention by engaging me.  She moved from unknown to known.  I felt moved to help her in her quest to get the word out about her book. I even sent a tweet on her behalf and eventually bought a book.

Shopping and buying are more of social activities.


So, take a page out of the Social Selling manual –and remember

“All Business is Personal”


Big 5 Publishing Vintage Pinback Buttons

Before radio buttons and “buy here,” Big 5 Trade Book Publishers used pinback buttons in their book promotions.

Take a peek at my collection.

I’ll Buy Yours, If You Buy Mine?

“Hey girl, when are you gonna pick up your copy of my book,” wrote the author-turned-publisher. I looked at the note in my inbox like a dog looks at his pet parent when he wants praise for chewing up a new shoe.”

She was kidding me, right? Why the heck would I buy her book when I had my own book for sale and at the same price? Plus, I’m an avid reader of Sci-Fi/Supernatural/Thriller, not Urban Romance. She would have known that if she had bothered to read my Myspace profile page.

I wrote back, “Sure, when you pick up my book,” She wrote, “I’m sorry, I thought you were my friend Mel from North Carolina. Good luck with your book” “Thanks, you too,” I offered.

She knew good and well; I wasn’t “Mel from North Carolina.” But I knew she was a writer who suffered from the same affliction most author-publishers suffer from:  “I don’t know my readers.”

Market Segmentation

This lack of business planning is possibly reaching epidemic proportions among the Literati because the author is an artist. This creative type may or may not have a proclivity for business. Therefore, the last thing on the creative entrepreneur’s mind is pinpointing a group of people with similar wants and needs that may want your product.

In fact, most entrepreneurs suffer from the same syndrome and fail to acquire enough customers to keep them in business. Does that mean there aren’t enough prospects? Heck no! There are 300 million people in the United States, and that’s plenty of prospects.

What? Did someone say all those people can’t be considered prospects? By Jove, you got it. No one’s market consists of 300 million people in the US unless she sells the air we breathe. Therefore, why do most entrepreneurs think they can sell to anyone in-ear or eye-shot of their pitch? They can’t. They can only sell to people who are receptive to their product.

Target Market

There are two ways to find out which prospects will buy your product; knock on many doors and ask to make a sale or figuratively prepare a buffet, set the table, and see who shows up hungry. You may not know what your dinner guests need to eat, but you know what they want. In this case, they want to satisfy their hunger.    Now that you have the home-field advantage (Ex. email marketing list or personal/business cards, cell number, etc.), you can discover your guests’ wants and needs through observation and communication.

In determining who will most likely buy your product (in this scenario, your book), you must first determine the following:

  • What problem does my book solve? (My heroine shows the reader how to mend a broken heart)
  • Why does my book solve that problem? (Although my book’s heroine’s problem is universal, her solution is unique.)
  • Who has this problem? (The jilted lover)
  • How does my book help the prospects? (My heroine gives the book-buying jilted lover an adventure and how to heal)
  • Where can prospects go to get this help? (My books’ platform should be the ideal destination)
  • When can prospects expect relief from their problem? (Once the prospect buys and reads the book.)

If you’re not interested in making a full-blown strategic marketing proposal, at least answer those questions.

You’ll quickly learn:

  • Who are your likely customers?
  • Where your customers”live” metaphorically speaking.
  • How you can develop a relationship with your prospects to get your product in front of them.
  • If your book can satisfy your prospects’ needs.
  • If your customers will buy again and refer your books to friends.

When you determine who your book helps, it will reveal other businesses already helping the group. This information will allow you to form a partnership and go through the back door to sell to their ready-made market. Also, your research will reveal your competition under the right conditions. Those competitors could become allies.

Social Selling

Finally, once you know who is in your audience, you’ll know how to communicate with them. You’ll know what they want and need and how you can be of assistance in helping them get it.

The latter is the foundation for developing a solid relationship with your customers and potential stakeholders, who will eventually form a sustainable network for your book business.

(c) 2009 MH

Update 2016: As for the author-turned-publisher I mentioned initially, I heard she now has a thriving publishing business. I didn't say knocking on many doors doesn't work - it just may take longer.