By Beth Terrell
Awhile back, Jean mentioned a famous author who sent out 50 review books. He attributed much of his book's success to this. Then Chester, one of my heroes, told me he'd done the same. Thus armed with advice from Those Who Are In the Know, I obtained 50 review copies and proceeded to search for 50 places to send them.
It's not as easy as it sounds. I got off to a quick start, because Chester kindly gave me a few names and addresses, and as always, I shamelessly dropped his name. Then I added to my list by Googling "mystery reviews" and "mystery reviewers" and also by offering ARCs (Advance Review Copies) to the first five people on the DorothyL list who emailed me asking for one. One, Theresa de Valence, wrote a lovely review and posted it to the listserve. Our own Pat Browning was kind enough to read a copy and give a review. My list grew, then shrunk as I went to review sites only discover that some were defunct, some only reviewed books by the BIG SIX, some only reviewed books published by Lulu or Createspace, some had long lists of reviews but no discernible way of submitting books, and so on. I searched for more, and my list grew again. I sent emails to some Amazon reviewers and one to a reviewer I found on Books'n'Bytes. All of them bounced, sending me scrambling for more recent email addresses. Many of the sites and reviewers I queried simply never replied. Maybe they have a backlog and will get to me eventually.
On the other hand, I checked back on the Thrilling Detective site and found my protagonist, Jared McKean, listed under "Detectives M-Z." That was a serious thrill, especially when I clicked on the link and read, a very nice review that began, "This Nashville cat just may be worth watching." Sending a thank-you note to the reviewer immediately went on my to-do list.
By the way, Chester's Greg and Jill McKenzie are there too, but Sid Chance isn't on the list yet.
Within a few weeks, I'm sure I'll have sent out 50 or more review copies. Will it make a difference? Well, it certainly couldn't hurt. With each online review, my search engine stock goes up. It's even better if I link to the reviews, and better still if I can find some kindly folks to link back to me. My husband thinks I'll be lucky if I ever reach a point where I make as much from my books as I spend trying to promote them. He may be right. Personally, I'd love to move comfortably into the black. But the only way to get there will be to build a readership one Tweet, one Facebook post, one review, one precious reader at a time.