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Marketing and Getting Reviews for a Self-Published Book
Written by
Delin Colón
September 2011
Written by
Delin Colón
September 2011

In April, 2011, I finally published my non-fiction book, "Rasputin and The Jews: A Reversal of History."  I did it through Createspace and it was relatively easy.  However, the 12 years I put into researching and writing the book were nothing compared to the job of marketing and getting reviews for it.


I started out, of course, announcing to friends, family and acquaintances, many of whom purchased it, and some of whom were kind enough to give me a good review on my Amazon page.  I thought, considering how narrow my topic is (not to mention controversial), that it would be easy to find publicity and reviews for it.  I started out with the newspapers of every town I'd ever lived in. Only one bite: the town I currently live in.  I did write a press release (free advertising!) that I sent to various newspapers, announcing that a local author's book had just been published.  Then I targeted Jewish periodicals, sites, blogs and reviewers, where I had moderate success (5 professional reviews).  I was somewhat surprised that I didn't hear anything from some of the others I queried.  Of course, I'm a little biased, but how often do they see books completely reversing the view of a historical figure?  Many reviewers simply state that they will not review self-published books... won't even consider it.  I understand that many, many self-published works are poorly edited, or even poorly written, but is it a reason to overlook all books published this way?


Then, there are the websites, like readerviews.com, where you can send your book for a free review.  They list it for 3 months and, if no reviewer selects it, it's taken off the list. There are also tons of links to other sources for reviews.  I refuse to pay for a book review.  To me, it's a conflict of interests and the validity of such a review is dubious.


I also have a google alert for any articles or news pieces referring to Rasputin or Russian Jewish History.  In the comment sections of those articles, I write a brief summary of my book, noting that it's available on Amazon, since many comment sections don't allow for links.  I try to do the same on book review blogs.  Of course, there are the local, independent book stores that will carry the book (some will buy it outright, others put it on consignment) and allow book signings.   


Not only is all of this marketing and begging for reviews a full time job that pretty much precludes further creative pursuits, but you also walk a fine line.  You can't be timid about asking for reviews; by the same token, you can't be demanding.  You have to be humble and a little ingratiating, yet display confidence in your work.  You definitely have to have a good pitch, with a good hook, in as brief a space as possible.  And always thank whomever you're querying for the time they've taken to read your request.  I've had some potential reviewers at professional literary review magazines or newspaper book review sections say "okay, send me the book."  No problem.  But after 3 months or so, I write saying I'm sure they are swamped, but just wondered if they got the book.  Some don't respond at all; a few say they did but can't review it, with no reason.  I only query once.  If they don't give me a reason, any further correspondence from me would be seen as a nuisance.  Certainly, it baffles me nonetheless, considering the glowing reviews I've received from highly credentialed professional reviewers/editors/authors.


Despite all the work self-promotion requires, the most important thrust is to continue to have faith in your work and not be discouraged.  Many times, the reasons a reviewer can't get to your work has to do with time constraints, genres outside their scope, and the sheer, overwhelming volume of requests they receive. You can't take it personally.  All you can do is keep searching doggedly for other venues, opportunities and resources for putting your work out there.  


I'd love to hear the experiences of others who share this Herculean task, and what sources you've uncovered.


Thanks for reading,


"Rasputin and The Jews: A Reversal of History"

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