Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Five Stars for Acapulco Nights - Another New Review

Wow! I just got notice this afternoon from another lovely reviewer, Book Reviews by Debra Gaynor, that she gave my book, Acapulco Nights, 5 stars! I'm supremely flattered.

Check out Deb's blog for other great reviews! 
Please check out her review of my book:

Debra Gaynor's Review of Acapulco Nights.

 Thank you, Debra! I appreciate your time. :-D

How to Find Book Reviewers for Your Wannabe Bestseller

Most authors know that book reviews are the stuff of dreams. If only I had 10 more reviews, you think, I could be selling a lot more books. You look at other books by nobody authors and wonder how they managed to get so many reviews on Amazon or GoodReads. Is my book so crummy and uninteresting that nobody wants to read it? If I wait long enough, will readers start typing up those reviews ASAP?

Buy here:
I've been there. My 4th book, ACAPULCO NIGHTS, was released in September 2016. It was a labor of love. None of my books, even those published by traditional publishers, have done well. I just enjoy writing so much that my main goal is to write a new book, not get people to read it. If my writing were all about the sales, I would've quit a long time ago.

However, I will admit it is frustrating to spend a lot of time on writing, editing and designing a book cover then going through the process of formatting for Kindle, other e-book file types and print and ending up with minuscule sales numbers. Secretly, all of us authors are hoping that our book is amazing and will fly off the shelves.

The Big Lie: All of those reviews you see are spontaneous writings of excited fans.

The Truth: You need to request reviewers to review your book.

Now, of course, many reviews are happy readers wanting to express their unsolicited opinion about a book they read. And big-time authors for sure have lots and lots of spontaneous reviews written by fans.

But for us little guys, what do you think the odds are that some random person is going to find your book on Amazon just by clicking around? And then what are the odds that that random person is going to buy your book, read your book and post a review? That is a very rare person indeed.

I was ignorant of these things when I was first published. My first book, THE NINTH
Buy here:
CURSE was published by a reputable small publisher, Samhain Publishing, and I really did think they would generate reviews and my presence on their website would be enough to get some decent sales. I was very very wrong.

Although I think I wrote a great book, it got very little notice. I even had a hard time getting friends and family to read it/review it. (I am not blaming my friends or family for this, but I'm just being honest. Even friends and family will not necessarily write you a glowing review!)

So, here I am a few years older and wiser, and I am starting to learn the truth. You need to reach out to bloggers and other reviewers and ask them to review your book.

So How Do I Do That?

1) Start with a review request letter. Introduce yourself and your book. Explain what you are looking for (a review). Discuss the genre, the audience, the length of your book, and add a blurb. Tell them what versions of your book are available (print or e-book) and provide links and contact information. 

This letter will be your 'base' letter that you will edit and alter depending on the interests, needs and requirements of the reviewer.

2) Research book reviewers. I know, I know, how do you do that? Just randomly search the internet? Here are a couple of ways you can find reviewers that might be interested in your book:
  • Any book blogs you might read. Start with what you know. Maybe there is a reviewer online who you already follow on Pinterest, Instagram or Facebook. 
  • Check out the resources in the Book Reviewer Yellow Pages.  This is a whole book updated every year with book reviewers, their likes and dislikes, how to contact them, etc. 
  • Go on Amazon. Look up books by well-known authors in your same genre. Look at the reviews. Try to find names of reviewers who have an Amazon ranking (Top 100 or Top 1000 reviewer, for example) and look at their Amazon page by clicking on the link. Most of them will have a contact email or a link to a website. 
  • Other Authors. If you have online friendships with any authors (big or small), ask them to do a review exchange. You'll read and review their book, if they will do the same for you.
 These are just a few ideas. I am sure once you get started, you will think of other ways to find book reviewers.

3) Tailor your review request letter to match what the reviewer wants to know. If there are no guidelines to find on a website or Amazon page, try mentioning where you found their name and why you think they might be interested in reading your book. Make it personal!

4) Be prepared to provide a free copy of your book to the reviewer. Many book reviewers write reviews because they love to read, not because they have huge book budgets to spend on random books. As a writer, you need to be prepared to invest in yourself and hand out free copies.

5) Be patient. Many book reviewers will tell you they are months behind. Don't bother the reviewer once you've sent the free copy. They are doing you a favor by reading your book. If you haven't seen a review posted in about 6 months' time, and if the reviewer did not give you an idea of when your book review might be available, perhaps contact the reviewer with a gentle reminder about your book. Don't be a pain in the butt!

What Can You Expect?

Just to give you an idea...for my book, ACAPULCO NIGHTS, I contacted 75 different book reviewers. Most of them never even responded to my request, which I took to mean 'not interested.' Out of the 75 I contacted, 12 said they would review my book. So realize it takes a lot of time and effort to get someone interested in your book!

I am still waiting on most of these reviewers to find time to read my book. Four  of them have posted reviews since I started this process in late September. I am planning on contacting some more reviewers, but it does take time to track them down, contact and wait for a response.

Have you found a good source for book reviewers? Or do you have a question for me about this topic? Leave a comment below!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Review: VOLOOM Styling Tool

Today I have to thank my wonderful sister for providing me with the inspiration for this blog post. She and I are both plagued with fine, straight hair. We have tried all sorts of styling tools, styling products, blowdrying methods, etc. to amp up the volume, but nothing ever seemed to work. When I hit my early 30s, I came to the conclusion that I should just get over the annoyance I have with the hair God gave me, and just roll with it. Why wish for something that will never be?

If you are a fine-haired person like me, you know what I'm talking about. Mousses, sprays and gels only weigh down your hair more. Even using the wrong conditioner can create flatter hair. For about 5 seconds in the morning, your hair has some of the volume you want from the blowdryer and hairspray, but then it disappears. Ugh. It's enough to drive a girl mad.

Enter the Voloom styling tool. 
I had never heard of Voloom before. My sister got one for Christmas (I think she purchased it for herself) and raved about what this tool could do. She sent before and after photos to me, and I was impressed with the difference in the volume of her hair. Now she is a Voloom evangelist. She has told all of her fine-haired, flat-haired friends about the wonder that is Voloom. She also finds herself noticing women on the street who could benefit from Voloom and secretly yearning to tell them about it.

So, she decided to buy me a Voloom as an early birthday gift! I got my Voloom yesterday. I used it one time, and now I am also a believer! Below is a before-and-after pic of me. The before pic on the left is me, just after blowdrying my hair. No products used. The after pic on the right is me, with just the Voloom use. No other styling product used.
Notice the difference in volume? It's amazing! I am even going to grow out my hair to a longer length due to the awesomeness of this tool. I have been using a very layered, shorter style for a long time now in order to create as much volume as possible. Now, I am free to have the length of hair I want.

What is Voloom?
Voloom is a styling tool that looks a lot like a straightening iron with a 'waffle' like pattern inside. It crimps your hair, providing lift and volume in seconds.

How do you use Voloom?
You plug in the device. Let it heat up to the proper temperature (different types of hair, need different temperatures) - the heating up only takes about 1 minute. Then, you lift off the top section of hair on either side of your part, clip it out of the way, and take an individual layer of hair underneath and crimp it near the roots for a second or two. You only crimp the layers underneath that you cannot also do not crimp the hair that will be visible next to your face. Once you are done, you unclip the straight hair on top, and voila! Instant volume.

In order to create the best volume and a nice-looking hairstyle, you should only be crimping from the roots to just above your ear. Any lower, and you won't have that volume appearance you want with fullness around the crown.

This still makes no sense to me. Help!
There are a lot of videos on YouTube about how to use the Voloom:

This review was entertaining and real.

You can also go on the Voloom website to view some short demos and see before-and-after pictures.

Tell me more about this miracle tool.

As a woman who lived through the 80s and those massive, glorious hairstyles of the time, I wished Voloom existed back then. I was unable to really do much with my hair: perms never worked, curling irons did nothing to impart volume, hairspray and mousses were useless. I was a sad 80s teen.

1) Voloom is incredibly quick and easy to use.

2) The volume lasts all day, even into the next day. If you don't wash your hair every day, you could wake up after sleeping on your Voloom-ed hair and still have the same volume as the day before.

3) The more layers underneath that you crimp, the bigger the volume. You can even do the back of your head.

4) You will never have a bad hair day again!

I am a pretty regular gal. I don't wear a lot of make-up and I don't spend hours on my hair. I don't consider myself a girlie girl. But this tool has made my life infinitely better just in one day. I feel better about myself and my appearance. My hair has the volume and lift I'd always dreamed about. I now have the option of different, longer hairstyles that I'd rejected due to past disappointments.

The Voloom costs $129.99 (Amazon with free shipping). Sounds pricey, I know. But think about all of the tools you've tried in the past. All of the volumizing products and shampoos that never really worked. The Voloom is a quality product that will last for years and provide instant improvement to your hair. It will make you more confident about your appearance. 100% worth it, ladies.

My sister and I are both so impressed with this product, we wish we could be commissioned salespeople. I can imagine setting up my booth at the local county fair and selling hundreds of these. All you need to see is a demonstration, and you will be sold on what this product can do for you.

Let me know if you have tried Voloom or if you have any questions about Voloom works in the comments below. Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Another Review for ACAPULCO NIGHTS. 4 Out of 5 Stars!

Just got word today that another book blogger has read and reviewed my book, Acapulco Nights. It's short, but sweet. So I won't quote any of it here. Please click below to read why Samantha at Book Reviews & Giveaways gave it 4 out of 5 stars:

Book Reviews & Giveaways Reviews Acapulco Nights

I am so happy to read how much readers have enjoyed my book. Maybe some of you will give it a shot with that Amazon gift card you might've gotten at Christmas.  If you're looking for a good romance with lots of twists and turns, this might be the one for you.