Mar 14

Making Your Book Reviews Work for You

Excerpted (and adapted) from Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s How To Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career.

Authors rarely get the most of their reviews. Surprised? I think it’s either that they are so excited about the review or that the idea of extending a review’s value doesn’t occur to them. Or it’s because so many reviews these days come from readers. They aren’t professionals, so they have no idea how to distribute content beyond posting their review on Amazon.

One of the ways they can get more mileage from their reviews is to get them reprinted in more venues than the reviewer ever planned. Or you do it for them. And, no, it isn’t stealing or plagiarism if you get permission from the reviewer first. In fact, it can benefit the reviewer.

When you get further distribute reviews you already have, it’s like getting a little marketing bonus. Here’s how to do that:

If your reviewer doesn’t normally write reviews (these reviewers are often called reader reviewers), suggest she send her review or the link to her review to her friends as a recommendation.

If your reviewer lives in a town with a small daily or weekly newspaper, she could send her review to them. She may realize the thrill of being published the first time.

Ask your reviewer—even one who writes for a review journal—to post her review on,, and other online booksellers that have reader-review features. I have never had a reviewer decline my suggestion. It is ethical for a reviewer to do it or give you permission to reuse the review as long as she holds the copyright for the review. (Most reviewers do not sign copyright-limiting agreements with the medium who hires them.) Get more information on Amazon’s often misrepresented review policies in Chapter Eleven, “Managing Your Amazon Reviews.”

After you have permission from the reviewer to reprint the review, post it on your blog, on your Web site, and in your newsletter. Use quotations from the reviews to give credibility to selected media releases and queries.

Once you have permission to use reviews, send copies of good ones to bookstore buyers and event directors as part of your campaign to do book signings, to speak, or do workshops in their stores. Go to for a starter list of bookstores.

Send quotations (blurbs) from the reviews you get to librarians, especially the ones in your home town or cities you plan to visit during book tours. Include order information. Try Midwest for a list of libraries.

Use snippets from positive reviews as blurbs in everything from your stationery to your blog. (Use your e-reader’s find function to search for other ideas for using your blurbs in this book.)

If your reviewer doesn’t respond to your request to post the review on Amazon, excerpt blurbs from them and post them on your Amazon buy page using Amazon’s Author Connect or Author Central features. They will appear on your Amazon sales page.

Include the crème de la crème of your reviews on the Praise Page of your media kit and inside the front cover of the next edition (perhaps a mass market edition like the pocket paperbacks sold in grocery stores?). See my multi award-winning The Frugal Book Promoter for the complete—and I do mean complete—lowdown on media kits.

Hint: Occasionally authors get reviews on Amazon that, shall we say…don’t thrill them. Reviews like that can be minimized by asking others for reviews. As new reviews are added, the old ones tend to get buried in the lineup of reviews. We can also (pleasantly!) refute a position a reviewer takes using the comment feature—or thank them for bringing something to our attention. We can also dispute their validity with Amazon, though that rarely works.

You can use some of these suggestions as part of your keeping-in-communication-with-reviewers effort after her review has been published.

Author and Book Marketer

Contributor Carolyn Howard-Johnson is an award-winning novelist, poet, and author of the HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers. She taught editing and marketing classes at UCLA Extension’s world-renowned Writers’ Program for nearly a decade and carefully chooses one novel she believes in a year to edit. The Frugal Editor award-winner as well as the winner of Reader View’s Literary Award in the publishing category. She is the recipient of both the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award and the coveted Irwin award. She appears in commercials for the likes of Blue Shield, Disney Cruises (Japan), and Time-Life CDs and is a popular speaker at writers’ conferences.


Whether you need help with ghostwriting or rewriting, or coaching, let me take a look at your children’s story. Just send me an email at: Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box. Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700

Let’s get your idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable story today!

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.


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Jul 26

6 Must-Know Book Marketing Basics

Book Marketing

As a children’s ghostwriter, I’ve written well over 300 stories for clients.

The thing I notice is that most of my clients don’t realize that simply writing a book doesn’t guarantee any sales.

It can be an excellent, high-quality book, but there are just too many books in cyber-space to be noticed. You’re just a tiny speck in the cyber sky.

So, what are some of the basic ways an author can bring attention to her book?

Let’s go over 6 of the basics.

  1. The very first thing is to create a quality book.

This means the story, grammar, illustrations (if applicable), and front and back covers, must be quality.

It might be tempting to forgo editing or go with a less than quality cover, but if you’re investing your time and effort into a book, do it right.

You may need to invest some money to produce a professional looking book that’s a quality read, but it will be worth it.

You will want to be proud to be author of your book.

  1. You should have an author website.

It doesn’t have to be a elaborate site or cost any money. You can create one yourself for free with sites like, Weebly,, GoDaddy, Blogger, Yola, and Wix. You can also do an online search to find others.

You can think of your website as your online home. It will be the home of your book.

  1. It can be a simple website.

The site can simply have a Home page or landing page with your book, the book’s description, book reviews (if you have any), and an image of the book cover and possibly the back cover.

You’ll also need to link to where the reader can buy your book.

This is a super-simple site, but at least you’ll have an online presence for your book.

If you need help creating your site, look for a web designer just starting out or maybe someone you know of, or someone who does it in their spare time.

If you have multiple books, you’ll want to create a webpage for each one. So, be sure whichever website builder you use offers that feature.

  1. Share your website.

Create little blurbs about your book and share (post) it on social media, linking back to your website.

It’s also a good idea to include an image of your book in the social media posts.

  1. Videos are powerful.

Even if you have a one-page website, include a video on it.

A video helps people get to know you and your book. It can be a simple 60 to 90 second clip about your book, or why you wrote it, or if applicable, how it will benefit the reader.

You can use your webcam on your computer or your iPhone.

You might even upload the video to YouTube and your social networks.

  1. Get reviews of your book.

Reviews are very powerful. They let people know that the book is a good read (hopefully it is). People buy books based on book reviews.

To find out how to get book reviews, check out Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s book: How To Get Great Book Reviews.

Taking advantage of these tips will help get your book noticed. They don’t guarantee sales, but without taking some form of book marketing action, you’re guaranteed not to sell any.

Get your book marketing strategy started today!


Along with being a children’s author and ghostwriter, I’m an author online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

Build Your Author/Writer Platform

Karen Cioffi will show you how to build your author platform

This e-class is 4-weeks, in-depth, and interactive. It covers all the tools you’ll need to build visibility and traffic, and boost sales.

CLICK THE LINK BELOW to check out all it includes!

If you want to check out other author platform classes I offer, check out:

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10 Tips to Hiring a Children’s Ghostwriter

5 Top Fiction Writing No-Nos

Writing – 6 Essential Steps to Publication

May 05

Book Synopsis, Book Description, Book Review – What’s the Difference?

Book Synopsis, Book Description, Book Review

The book synopsis, description, and review are three book marketing tools that your books will absolutely need.

But, when do you need these marketing elements and how do you use them?

Let’s look at each one in the order you would use them.

The Book Synopsis

You’ve written an amazing story – it’s traditional publishing ready … and worthy.

You do your research and find literary agents and/or publishing houses that accept your book’s genre. And, a few of the publishing houses accept unagented and unsolicited submissions. Yea!

Along with a cover letter and the first 10 pages of your manuscript, the agent or publisher will probably want a synopsis of your story. (The number of pages may vary from company to company, and you’ll send the full manuscript if you’ve written a picture book.)

So, what exactly is a synopsis?

According to an article at Writer’s Digest, “A synopsis conveys the narrative arc, an explanation of the problem or plot, the characters, and how the book or novel ends. It ensures character actions and motivations are realistic and make sense. It summarizes what happens and who changes from beginning to end of the story.” (1)

The synopsis will be part of your submissions journey. And yes, it gives away the ending.

Your synopsis should be one-two pages, depending on the length of your book. You don’t want to overload it with details, but you want to give enough information to whet the reader’s appetite.

Just summarize your story and be sure to include the ending.

An agent or publisher will want to know exactly what happens in the story and how it ends up.

Along with the number of pages requested from your manuscript, the synopsis will help determine whether the agent or publisher will want to see more.

The Book Description

Next up on your writing journey is the book’s description. This may be similar to the synopsis, but there’s a BIG difference: You don’t give away the ending or any other surprises in the story.

The description is a book marketing tool that helps sell your book. It explains what your story is about in a way that makes the reader want to read the book. It’s a hook.

If you’ve written a book and went to the trouble of submitting it to agents and/or publishers, or you’re self-publishing, you want to sell that book.

The short version of the book’s description (backcover copy) and the longer version for marketing and publicity purposes are pitches to the reader. These descriptions should be enticing enough to motivate the reader to buy your book.

The description could make or break the purchasing decision.

In fact, I can’t remember where I read it, but the #1 selling factor of a book is the cover. The #2 factor is the backcover copy.

The Book Review

As soon as you have a completed manuscript that’s about to be published or has just been published, whether traditionally published or self-published, you will need reviews of your book.

In an article at Jane, the author says that “book reviews build symbolic capital.” (2) This is what you need for book sales.

Okay, so what is symbolic capital?

Well, you may think your book is amazing, but the purchaser wants more evidence than your opinion. They want to know that others have read your book and loved it. “You need (positive) independent assessment to convince readers to spend money and time.” (2)

This is where book reviews come in.

Think of an author in one of the big five publishing houses. Think of an author on the NYTimes Best Seller list, multiple times. Think of ‘heavy hitters’ like James Patterson, Stephen King, Danielle Steel, and Nora Roberts.

This is symbolic capital.

While most authors won’t be in the category above, having lots of positive book reviews is another form of symbolic capital.

Book reviews are extremely important if you’re a self-published author. You won’t have any momentum behind you, so you need to create your own with book reviews.

You might consider giving the book away for free to get some word-of-mouth started. Ask if the readers will post a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and other book sites.

Once you start getting positive reviews, you can use them in your marketing. Keep building on them.

Why are Book Reviews SO Powerful?

In an article at, it states, “In a recent study, data revealed that 67% of consumers are influenced by online reviews.” (3)

It seems, salespeople and marketers are trusted only 3% compared to 2% for car salesmen and politicians. (3)

That’s powerful information.

Hope this helps you as you get your book out there.



Children's ghostwriter

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter and rewriter. I can turn your story into a book that you’ll be proud to be author of.

Shoot me an email at: (please put Children’s Ghostwriter in the Subject line). Or, you can give me a call at 834—347—6700

Let’s get your story in publishable shape today!

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