Monday, June 25, 2018

Goodreads Giveaways and Review Widgets for Writers by Elizabeth S. Craig

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Goodreads is a reader community known for being tough on both books and writers. Still, there is a lot to be gained by using Goodreads for promo activities: primarily by tapping into their base of 75 million registered members.

Today I’ll cover two basic ways to use Goodreads for promotional activities: participating in a Goodreads giveaway and using their review widgets to offer social proof on your website and/or author Facebook page.

Goodreads Giveaways:

Goodreads has recently reworked their giveaway and writers can now supply digital copies of their books through the platform (the cost of the program is $119 for either printed or digital copies). Despite the cost associated with the program, it does mean a good deal of exposure for the book—and Goodreads handles the digital distribution of the titles.

For writers wanting to gain more reviews, it’s good to know that Goodreads does send follow-up emails to readers who win the giveaway after 8 weeks, reminding them to rate and review the title.

Writers simply looking for more visibility should know that whenever readers enter the giveaway, it adds the title to their ‘want to read’ list, which shows up in their friends’ feeds.


If you’re looking for visibility: Instead of giving away as many books as you can, give away the smallest number you can (10) because the visibility you gain will be the same (unless your purpose is to gain more reviews for your title).

You’ll be featured in Goodreads’ ‘recently listed’ and ‘ending soon’ alerts if you keep your giveaway short. I set mine for 10 days (with the giveaway ending one day after the book’s release). If you can afford it, the best approach is to set several short giveaways back to back for maximum exposure.

If you’re looking for more reviews: If reviews are what’s drawing you to Goodreads giveaways, you’ll do better giving away more copies of your books because only a certain percentage of readers will write reviews.

How to Set up a Giveaway: here’s a step-by-step guide for setting up a giveaway (via Goodreads). Pay special note to the fact that you’ll need to connect your Amazon and Goodreads accounts.

Goodreads Review Widget: For Your Website

The Goodreads review widget is a free way to add some social proof to your website for readers.

If you’ve written a fair number of books, I don’t think it’s necessary to install the widget for every book … in fact, I think that might slow down your site’s loading times. But I do think it could be a good way to gain exposure for the first book in a series or your latest release.

It’s important to tweak the settings on the widget to ensure that you’re getting better sales copy from it.

Below are the default settings:

Goodreads, as I mentioned earlier, can be tough on writers. Book ratings on the site (even for good reviews) are frequently a lot lower than what you'd expect on Amazon. The review widget on Goodreads defaults to a minimum 1-star rating. Obviously, you don't want to have 1-star reviews on your website. Although we definitely need the occasional bad review to prove we do have a genuine audience, these poor reviews don’t make for good sales copy.

I'd advise that you change the minimum rating to 3 or 4 for advertising purposes. Here are my changes:

You can see that I changed the ISBN (necessary for them to pull up the book), changed the number of reviews to display to 3 (because I didn't want the widget to consume the entire page), changed the minimum star rating, and altered the header text. From there, you hit submit and then copy/paste the code into a webpage (using the 'text', not the 'visual' compose setting). Then you end up with something that looks like this:

Goodreads Review Widget for Your Facebook Page:

Adding a tab to your Facebook page is pretty straightforward. I chose to add an author tab, since I have a lot of books, but you could also choose to add a book tab if you’d rather. You can also add a group tab (instructions for that at the bottom of this page).

Here are the directions, straight from the Goodreads Help page:

To add an author or book tab:

1. Create a Facebook Page if you don’t already have one.
2. Visit your author dashboard.
3. Scroll down to the “Facebook Page Tab” section.
4. Click the green “Add the Goodreads app” link in this section.
5. A pop-up will appear. Choose your page from the drop-down menu and hit “Okay.”
6. Navigate to your Facebook fan page. You should now see a Goodreads icon on the “About” bar (under the “Like” button). Click on this to visit your page tab.

The tab will default to showing an “Author” page, which will show all of your author information, details, and books. If you’d like to switch this to a dedicated book page instead, just go back to Facebook. Click on the page tab and scroll the whole way down. At the bottom right, you’ll see a link that says “Edit your Goodreads tab settings.” Click this to choose what type of tab you’d like to set up.

Again, you’ll want to tweak the default settings to make sure that you’re highlighting your good reviews.

It ends up looking like this:

Once I’d added the Goodreads tab to the page, I realized that not only was I not happy having the tab at the bottom of the list of tabs, the whole tab column was way too cluttered.

To Reorder Tabs on a Facebook Page:

1. Go to your Page and click Settings
2. Click Edit Page in the left column
3. Click and drag a tab to reorder it

Remove Tabs and Sections
Keep in mind that you can only remove the following tabs and sections: Events, Groups, Notes, Services, Shop, Jobs, Offers and Reviews.
To remove a tab or section:

1. Go to your Page and click Settings
2. Click Edit Page in the left column
3. Click Settings next to the tab you want to remove
4. Click to select Off
5. Click Save

After that, it looked much better (unfortunately, Facebook doesn’t allow you to remove some tabs, but I removed what I could):

Have you used Goodreads for promo? What promo activities have you been working on lately?

Elizabeth is the bestselling cozy mystery author of the Southern Quilting mysteries, Memphis Barbeque mysteries, and Myrtle Clover Cozy Mysteries for Penguin Random House, Midnight Ink, and independently. Follow her on Twitter where she shares writing links @elizabethscraig or at her blog where she offers tips for writers: Elizabeth S. Craig . She lives in Matthews, North Carolina with her husband and is the mother of two.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Reading Loud and Proud

If you’re trying to get the right rhythm for your writing and make it seem completely natural for the reader, one of the best things you can do is to read it out loud. This might seem a daunting and time-consuming prospect at first, but it really can work wonders by helping you see where you’re getting it right and pinpointing any weak spots.

A key benefit is helping you identify overlong sentences, which can drain the reader’s energy and make reading seem like a chore. We often don’t realise we’re elaborating at too much length when we’re concerned with getting all our ideas down, but if you read the material out loud and find yourself running out of breath, it’s a sure sign that you need to break that sentence up somehow.

A simple benefit of reading out loud is that it will reveal where your syntax may be clunky and need smoothing out. It may not be immediately obvious when reading it in black and white, but if you end up tripping over the words when reading it out, you’ll know that area is slightly weaker and can make notes for where revisions are due.

In addition, brevity is something you should always be aiming for in your work, as a rule of thumb. Less is more – just give the audience what they want to know. If you’re reading a certain section and it becomes tiresome and repetitive to do so, you’ll know some trimming is in order.

Let’s look at some of the various approaches to reading your work out loud…

·        Simply read a few paragraphs to yourself to get a feel for the flow.

·        Record your reading, perhaps on your phone or using a speech recording device online. Some options include Online Voice Recorder, which allows you to record your voice as an MP3, and you can also edit the files. Vocaroo and Clyp are simple tools that record and play back your voice instantly, and all of the above are free to use. While some find it an odd experience to listen to their own voice, hopefully you can move past that to focus on how the material is coming across. The good thing about this approach is that you can pause and listen to key sections several times, making notes on how certain sentences could be improved.

·       Use a speech reader that comes with your computer. May be the way to go if you can’t get over the cringe factor!

·       An excellent tip is to read your work to an audience. It doesn’t have to be a large group, which can definitely be intimidating for many people. A close friend or family member, who you can trust to be honest in their appraisal of your performance, is ideal. A key benefit of all this is that it prepares you for public readings in front of a larger audience.

·       Another option for reaching an audience without actually being “in front of” people is to set up a YouTube channel. Read snippets from your books or even exclusive flash fiction pieces. Ask for feedback via comments.

I haven’t actually done too much of this myself yet, but I hear it works wonders for many people. What about you? Do you read your work out loud, how do you go about that, and has it helped you refine your work?

The next #IWSGPit is Thursday, July 19, 2018! 
8:00 am - 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time 

Create a Twitter-length pitch for your completed and polished manuscript and leave room for genre, age, and the hashtag. On July 19, Tweet your pitch. If your pitch receives a favorite/heart from a publisher/agent check their submission guidelines and send your requested query.

Many writers have seen their books published from a Twitter pitch - it’s a quick and easy way to put your manuscript in front of publishers and agents.


Writers may send out 1 Twitter pitch every hour per manuscript.

Publishers/Agents will favorite/heart pitches they are interested in. Publishers can either Tweet basic submission guidelines or direct writers to their submission guidelines. (Writers, please do not favorite/heart pitches.)

No images allowed in pitches.

Pitches must include GENRE/AGE and the hashtag #IWSGPit.

#C - children’s
#MG - middle grade
#YA - young adult
#NA - new adult
#A - adult
#AD - adventure
#CF - Christian fiction
#CO - contemporary
#F - fantasy
#H - horror
#HI - historical
#LF - literary fiction
#MCT - mystery/crime/thriller
#ME - memoir
#NF - non-fiction
#PB - picture book
#PN - paranormal
#R - romance
#SF - sci-fi
#WF - women's fiction

Monday, June 11, 2018

10 Great Places to Promote Your Book Online

Hi, everyone! Chrys Fey, here.

A while ago on my blog, Write with Fey, I had an open call for followers to submit questions about writing/publishing/marketing, etc. One of the questions I received was from Alex J. Cavanaugh, the creator of IWSG.

He asked: Where else can I go to promote my books online?

There are countless sites online for promoting books/eBooks, free eBooks, discount eBooks, and just about everything in-between.

Here are my top 10 favorite places to promote:

1. Manic Readers
Manic Readers has a great feature for authors looking for reviews called Review Depot. After you upload your book and your book’s info, all you have to do is click “Request Review.” A new page will appear with a list of review sites. Next to each entry is a box you can check. You can choose several or all by clicking “Check All.”
They also offer paid service and promo. You can even be a guest blogger.
You can see my profile as an example: HERE

2. Authorgraph
Authorgraph is a neat site that allows readers to ask you to sign your eBook. If a reader requests your autograph, you will have to log in to Authorgraph and use your mouse or finger (depending on your device) to sign your name. When you approve your signature, it’s sent to the reader as a pdf. When they open the file they get, they can watch your signature appear on a blank page opposite the cover art for your book.
First, you have to “add your books” to their site, which really just means your book’s info and cover art. Then you can select a widget to put on your website or blog. The widget will only show one eBook, but all of the eBooks you upload will be there for readers to choose from. All they have to do is click on the widget to be taken to the site to request as many autographs of yours as they want. And when they get them, they can even save them to their Kindle (or any device) and start a collection.
You can see my profile as an example: HERE

3. Reader’s Favorite
Reader’s Favorite is the first place I submit a (free) review request when I have a new book coming out. I’ve always had luck with a reviewer selecting my books, and when a review comes in, I like to take a quote from it to add to my book’s Amazon Page under the Editorial Reviews section. Their reviews are detailed and usually have a few great lines perfect to quote. Also, if you get a 5-Star review, they give you an image of a sticker, a seal to show off your accomplishment. You can use the image on your website or even order stickers to put on your books.
This site also runs an annual contest. Each year their contest entry period ends on April 1st. They don’t have strict rules, either, which is nice. You can submit unpublished and published books, recently published as well as books published years ago.

4. The Romance Reviews
This website is for romance authors/books. You can create a profile complete with your website/blog links, your bio, and all of your books. On your profile, your books’ covers will be under the “Books Written” section. If these covers are clicked on, readers can see release date, genre, and summary for your book. There’s also a direct link to your book’s Amazon page. And if you create a profile, they offer you a cute, small badge to put on your website/blog for people to click on it and visit your profile.
The Romance Reviews also offer headline ads. You can earn free credits to put toward your Headline Ads. One credit per month, which means one Headline free every month! All you have to do to get these credits is put their banner on your blog or website. If you go to my blog, Write with Fey, and scroll down, you’ll see their banner.

5. Book Pinning
BookPinning has an interesting concept of pinning your books to their site. It’s free, too! Visit their site and click “Pin Your Book” at the top. Fill in your book’s details, upload the cover art, and submit it. Within 24 hours your book should be “pinned.” Please note, they do not accept books with erotic scenes, extreme violence, or that can be offensive to others. I don’t know how long the pins last, but this would be something good to do for when you have a sale or mark your eBook for free. You can re-pin your books later, but not within 30 days. (Currently inactive - sorry!)

6. Book Daily
BookDaily provides you with a profile featuring your author photo, bio, and a few social media links, but what I really love about this site is what they offer for your books. Under “My Books,” you can easily add a new book by using the ASIN or ISBN for your book. It automatically finds your book and you can approve it. Once you do that, click the gray button that says “continue to step 4.” This is where you can add the cover art, description, and a sample chapter And, yes, you really do want to add the sample chapter. Readers view your sample chapter and then can go to the Amazon page if they’re interested. So, upload all of Chapter One.
A bonus is the fact that you can check your book’s statistics and see how many people have read your book per month. Just a note, the longer it’s up, the less views it’ll get, but most of mine get a few reads a month.
You can see my profile as an example: HERE (Closing July 2018 - sorry!)

7. Book Buzzer
BookBuzzr has many different tools for authors. Add your book using your ASIN or ISBN number and input whatever info and links you want. You can then create widgets by following their instructions, which includes uploading a pdf and selecting how many pages you want to display. These widgets include: BookBuzzer Flipper, Mini Book Widget, Author Page Widget, and more.
They provide a free trail that allows you to test out their widgets. After that, it costs $9.99 a month to keep the widgets active, but you can cancel at any time. However, your profile, with all of your books, will always be there regardless if you subscribe or not.
You can see my profile as an example: HERE

8. Wanton Reads
Do you write romantic fiction? Then this is the site for you. When you submit your book’s info and all of the buy links, they also ask you to answer this question: What Inspired You To Write This Book? I like that because it provides additional insight that other promo sites don’t feature.
Aside from submitting your book, you can also do an author interview. And it’s easy, too. All you have to do is fill out the form. They ask you questions about writing and publishing. One of their questions is: Do you listen to or talk to your characters? What’s better? All of this is free!

9. Ask David
Ask David provides a Twitter promo service for a fee. You create a tweet and they send it out to their followers. They also have a free eBook promo. You can also become a member with a fee of $15. The membership lasts for six months, which is ample time to help you decide if this membership works for you or not. Members get many benefits such as a book promotion page, notifications of new reviews, and features on their site. New members also get the eBook Guerrilla Publishing: Revolutionary Book Marketing Strategies by Derek Murphy, Ph.D. for FREE!

10. Awesome Gang
Awesome Gang has a page full of websites that let authors submit their books for free promotion. Here’s the link: HERE Awesome Gang even allows you to submit to their site for free, which is listed as the first option on their page for free promotion.

Here are additional sites for you to check out:
Book Goodies – Submit a free author interview to be posted (forever) on their site. They also offer paid promo services for a small fee for free, permafree, and bargain books.
Book Angel – Submit your free and bargain books. (Submit Amazon UK links since Book Angel is UK based.) No fee!

If you do a Google search, you can find way more sites than these. Explore them and have fun!

For more information like this check out:
Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You From Idea to Publication by Chrys Fey

Chrys Fey is the author of Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication. Catch the sparks you need to write, edit, publish, and market your book! From writing your novel to prepping for publication and beyond, you’ll find sparks on every page, including 100 bonus marketing tips. Fey is an editor for Dancing Lemur Press and runs the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s Goodreads book club. She is also the author of the Disaster Crimes series. Visit her blog Write With Fey for more tips.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

June Has Crept Up & #IWSG Has Arrived

June? Already six months into 2018? How does that make you feel? Have you followed through on some of your resolutions if you made any? Are you scratching your head about where those six months have gone?

How about the INSECURITIES? Got some? Well, if so, you've come to the right place. 

Welcome to June's #IWSG First Wednesday of the Month. 
This was Alex Cavanaugh's idea and it has grown each year. 

Our co-hosts this month are the awesome  Beverly Stowe McClure, Tyrean Martinson, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

The Question (optional) is
What's harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?

My answer is TITLES. Sometimes they're quite evident, but most of the time, not so much. The characters kind of name themselves. And they are particular, I can tell you. One even corrected my spelling of her name recently. Of course, she was right. Her name is better starting with a C than with a K. Drat! I hate it when they prove me wrong.

I learned my lesson about titles with my first book. I had this "dynamite" title, Bad Ass Attitude, and there was no doubt in my mind that it was perfect. The publisher didn't think so. They said it might be offensive and changed it to Sliding on the Edge. I'm still sure my title was better. Offensive? What do you think?

So tell us a bit about your INSECURITIES today or your NO INSECURITIES if that's the case. Opt in or out of the question, but join in whatever way works for you. 


Whatever you do, don't forget the #IWSGPit. 

8:00 am - 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time 

And, there's more. Here's the next great ANTHOLOGY opportunity for authors. The genre is young adult romance. The theme will be announced September 5.