As any author will tell you, it's reviews and recommendation that seem to help most in terms of creating interest in a particular title, and once you get so many reviews on something like Amazon, the book can gain a momentum it would not otherwise have had.
To try to get a few reviews in the past, I've offered giveaways on Goodreads. However, out of the seven copies of three books I've sent out on giveaways, only ONE recipient has ever bothered to post a review in return. (I only ever did the giveaways because I understood that if you were lucky enough to 'win' a copy, it was sent on the understanding that it was in exchange for an honest review. Not in my experience, unfortunately. Maybe I need to include a note in the next lot to remind the reader?)
On Amazon, the majority of reviews I've received for StarMark were only placed after I'd plucked up enough courage to ask the person who contacted me to say how much they enjoyed the book, to post one - but always stressing that if they didn't want to, that was fine! (Have to add that some of the reviews have been left by people I don't know, so they aren't all 'friend' reviews...)
With Kingstone coming out this summer, I've been thinking of how I can improve things. (Yes, I will probably do a giveaway on Goodreads - but that can only be done once I've got the physical copies to give! ie, after publication.)
I did have one idea. Remember my visit to Stamford High School last month? Where I met the Book Club? We talked about Kingstone as part of the Q&A session, and the girls sounded very keen to read the book and asked if they could get hold of it early. I said I would see what I could do.
Because of the limitations placed by POD, I plumped for sending them a pdf copy of the first-edit version of the book. I checked it with Bink first of course, to make sure I wasn't doing anything uncontractual. And the pdf was sent out on the understanding that it wasn't the final version (there are still some tweaks to be made) and with a request not to let anyone else outside of Book Club read it (don't want to affect potential sales!). In exchange, I asked for their reviews and thoughts on the story.
The first review is already in from speedy-reader Hazel, who apparently read Kingstone in one sitting. In her words:
"It's so gripping, I couldn't put it down!"
"Hooray!" says Squidge.
So it seems like this might be a good way of getting ARCs to readers, whilst relying on POD for printed copies. But doing this has left me with more questions than answers. Like;
Will any serious book reviewers or bloggers take a pdf version rather than a kosher paperback?
Will Amazon allow advance reviews to be posted before publication? (I don't think they do, to prevent...what was the expression? Puppeteering or something like that? Where the author and their mates post only good stuff to big up a book?)
Can you post an ARC review on Goodreads before publication?
Is there anyone reading this blog who is a book blogger or reviewer or librarian and would give an honest review in exchange for an ARC copy of Kingstone?
I think there's a bit more research to do to answer all of these, but in the meantime I know I have one happy reader, at least.
(Seriously - if you are reading this and you are a book blogger or reviewer or librarian with a fondness for children's books, message me! And if you're not one of those but fancy getting your hands on Kingstone as soon as it's published, advance orders are being taken on Amazon right now...)