#Indiechat How to Tell If a Book Promoter is Legit

After receiving the below email from http://www.thebooksmachine.com soliciting me to promote with them The Zeuorian Awakening (currently being offered FREE on Amazon as a Kindle book promotion). I decided to do a little research to see if their stats were legit.

Dear Cindy Zablockis,

I have recently come across your book The Zeuorian Awakening (Volume 1) on Amazon and due to both its quality and plot, it qualifies to be promoted in our community of readers.

The Books Machine is a website that connects authors and readers. It helps writers promote their work, gain in reputation and prestige, and reach a potential audience.

Our press team’s offer includes help promoting books to thousands of readers in our community, whether at reduced or regular prices. This is done through a deals promotion page on our website, a Facebook post with exclusive deals reaching over 25,000 readers, as well as a “Newsletter of the Day” that uses a unique and innovative marketing tool featuring an excerpt from your book within a unique customized layout.

The days currently available to feature your work in our newsletter are tomorrow and Friday. In the following link you can find more detailed information about who we are, get to know our community of authors and readers, and find out how this promotion can benefit you and your book: http://www.thebooksmachine.com/deals/dealspromote.html

Also you can find a powerful tool to promote your titles in an innovative way through a professional Video Book Trailer production, adding it on your Amazon book description, Author Central, Deal description, social networks, Youtube Channel, your own website, etc. You can see more information, prices and real works that we’ve made for our authors here: http://www.thebooksmachine.com/booktrailer/videobooktrailer.html
Warm wishes,

Meryl Wright
Site Administrator

www.thebooksmachine.com
FB: www.facebook.com/TheBooksMachine

Copyright 2014

 

What I found about thebooksmachine.com

(This is an average of multiple Traffic Reporting Sites Stats)

Website Statistics

  • Unique “New” (Never been to the website) Visitors: 625 – 852 (Daily) or 18,750 – 25,560 (monthly)
  • Daily “Web” Page views by New & Returning Visitors as well as webots: 1,704 – 4,062
  • Bounce Rate (% of visitors who visit 1 page for less than 60 seconds and then leave the site): 100%/100 %
  • Website Trust worthiness: Very poor (Web browsers and Virus software will warn visitors site not safe)
  • Website Privacy: Very poor (Your cookie information can be copied. i.e. ip address, email, etc…)
  • Website Child Safety: Very Poor (Adult content. Computers with child browsers will block the site)
  • Website Security:  None (They have no HTTPS Protocol needed to hide information entered in forms)

 

Facebook Statistics

  • Facebook page has 27,786 likes
  • 69 People talking about their post this week
  • 39 New page likes this week
  • Last post 4/13/16
  • # of post a day: 1 – 2
  • Post time: early morning around 7:30 am or evening around 5:30 pm

 

Twitter Statistics

  • Tweets 447
  • Following 1,173
  • Followers 3,990
  • Likes 109
  • Last Tweet September 2015

 

Google+ Statistics

  • Google+ followers 13
  • Last post June 2015

 

So What does all that mean?

If I ran my ad for 2 days on their site as the email suggested, I would have:

1,250 potential people may view my book ad on the web site for less than 60 seconds, depending if it is on the home page and above the fold (visible without scrolling) before they leave the website.

152 people may view the ad on Facebook (based on 8.24% average post reach x T # of likes “views” / 30 days * 2 days) and less than 4 people may share my book on Facebook (based on .21% engagement rate x Total # of likes / 30 days * 2 days).

Bottom Line

I wouldn’t pay them a penny. First of all, their website isn’t secure to receive payments or protect information entered in the registration forms. The numbers I discovered is considerably far less than the 25,000 they were touting. No wonder they don’t have an official advertising page with their web statistics posted like legitimate websites.

 

If you like to learn more about Web Analytics visit this website:

https://www.tendenci.com/help-files/meaning-of-hits-visits-page-views-and-traffic-sources-web-analytics-definitions/#sthash.xPWPT9KQ.dpuf

 

How you can look up a website advertising stats:

Free Services

 

Paid Services

 

 

How to Check Blog Stats

Blog Post Comments

Another way to gauge the popularity of a blog is to look at how many comments it gets per post.

With my sites, I’ve found that an average of 1 out of every 200 readers leaves a comment. So a post with 20 non-Nicholas comments was viewed about 4,000 times. This changes with every post and every blog, but again, it gives you a general idea.

 

Total Comment Counts

Immediately after you comment on a WordPress blog, your browser redirects you to where your comment will show up. If you look at the URL, you’ll see something that looks like this:

http://www.website.com/blog#comment-108656

The second half of the URL tells you that you left the 108,656th comment on website.com. This number includes spam comments. Assume that 75-90% of the comments are spam and you can get an idea of how many comments a site has had since day one.


About The Author

C. Zablockis is an Indie author of paranormal, dark fantasy and horror novels. She published Lexi Greene’s Dangerous Lesson, Lexi Greene’s Grim Awakening, Monster (The Zeuorian Series) and My Watcher (The Zeuorian Series) YA Dark Fantasy Thriller.

 

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#indiechat Getting Better Reviews On Your Books

Every author faces the challenge of getting reviews on their books, preferably good ones ( 4 and above). They have a direct impact on sales. The more favorable, more sales and better exposure of the book on Amazon.

However, getting reviews can be a daunting task. Trust me, I know. I sent blind emails to bloggers and Amazon top reviewers. I filled out countless book review blog requests. I begged family and friends for their help (Which ended up being a waste of time, because Amazon blocks those reviews). I bartered with other authors (I review your book, if you review mine.). None of it worked. I got a few reviews that was it.

I finally resorted to using review services like Story Cartel and Netgalley, but several of the reviews I received weren’t that great. Like most writers I internalized and assumed my book sucked. But after I had time to think and put on my User researcher hat and re-read the reviews, I realized the bad reviews had nothing to do with my writing, rather the reviewer.

Majority of the reviewers who gave my book bad reviews weren’t my target audience. They liked to read paranormal romances not dark fantasy’s packed with action and mystery. No wonder why they hated the book. I would feel the same toward most literary fiction. I have no patience for slow paced, overly descriptive stories.

The rest of the bad reviews came from reviewers who like to bash books. You know them. The shock jocks who like to stir up others emotions to increase their blog readers, the pissed off reader who got irked about something in the book or in some cases, life, and take it out on the review.  Lastly, there were the reviewers who just wanted to add another blog article and didn’t bother to read the book at all. (i.e. a reviewer of my book The Zeuorian Awakening talked about how my lead character, Lexi, threw herself on all the boys. If she read the story, she would’ve known Lexi avoided everyone to keep them from figuring out about her powers.)

So I realized in order to get better reviews, I needed to think like a marketer. I needed to request reviews from my target audience. Unfortunately the pay for review services don’t give you the choice to be picky about who reads your books.

But How, you maybe thinking?

First of all you need to know what is your book genre and who is your real audience, because I promise you it’s not everyone.

When I say know your audience, I mean a general profile:

  • What is their age range
  • Are they male or female, if a mix what is the percentage (i.e 25% male and 75% female)
  • Do they have a blog, Twitter, Facebook and/or Goodreads accounts
  • Do they actively socialize online, if so where, how many posts per week and on what days?
  • What genre’s do they predominately read and give good reviews too. (Make sure your book Genre is on their list, specifically close to the top.)
  • Have they reviewed several books? (A must, if you want them to review your book)

The best way to figure out who are your audience without guessing and filling in the blanks, is to do a little competitive research. See who is reading similar books as yours on Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter and Blogs. (at least 25, but I suggest doing more to get a clear picture). Then list their answers in a spreadsheet and average them out.

For instance:

  • Ages were 25, 36, 29, 45, so the age range is 25 to 45.
  • There were 2 men and 18 women. So the audience makes up mostly women readers with a small percentage of men.
  • 10 readers had blogs, 18 had Twitter accounts, 5 had Facebook accounts and 16 had Goodreads accounts. So the audience predominately has Twitter and Goodreads accounts.
  • 5 readers tweeted 10 posts twice a week on Twitter, 12 tweeted 20 posts every other day of the week and 3 tweeted 1 post on Friday. So the audience is moderately active on Twitter, posting 10 to 20 tweets on M, W, F and Sun.

Next you need to find potential reviewers who match your audience using your research and solicit them. It doesn’t have to be a direct email. It could be:

  • A blog article, a tweet, a Facebook posting targeting them by using meta and hashtags.
  • An article written and posted on someone else’s blog that your audience views.
  • Join a discussion group who discuss your genre, but don’t hound them to review your book. Instead mention it briefly in a related thread.

If you can think of any other way to connect to your audience please share by posting a comment.


About The Author

C. Zablockis is an Indie author of paranormal, dark fantasy and horror novels. She published Lexi Greene’s Dangerous Lesson, Lexi Greene’s Grim Awakening, Monster (The Zeuorian Series) and My Watcher (The Zeuorian Series) YA Dark Fantasy Thriller.

Story Cartel Review

This is my experience using Story Cartel

Story Cartel Site

Story Cartel Logo

I decided to try out Story Cartel with my short story Monster. I paid $30 which included posting my book on their website for download by reviewers. I had to handle the advertising on my own, which I did through Twitter and Facebook.

11 people downloaded the story. Out of that number I received 4 reviews. Two on Amazon and two on Goodreads. All were favorable. I also gained additional books sales from the reviews. So overall the $30 dollars was well spent.

So I tried it again with my book Awakening. Same deal. They post it on their website for download by reviewers. I handled the advertising. This time I had 31 people download the book. Out of that number only 3 posted reviews. 1 on Amazon. 1 on Barnes and Nobles and 1 on Goodreads. Two favorable and one not so favorable. This time I didn’t gain any book sales.

Compare Story Cartel to NetGalley

Story Cartel is by far cheaper $30 to $150. I received close to the same downloads from NetGalley (37 to be exact), but more people posted reviews about the book 18+ and I also was given feedback from everyone who downloaded my book whether they got a chance to read it or not.

Interesting. I had 23 favorable reviews out of the 37. Almost everyone who disliked my book, because they thought it was a romance (due to a mix up in the overview) instead of a thriller, posted a review on Goodreads. Whereas the ones who liked it, only a few posted reviews. Which lowered my overall stars to 3.10. That’s why I don’t put too much into reviews. They don’t show the entire picture. Plus, just because one person hates a book, doesn’t mean I won’t like it. They might have an entirely different taste in books than I do.


About The Author

C. Zablockis is an Indie author of paranormal, dark fantasy and horror novels. She published Lexi Greene’s Dangerous Lesson, Lexi Greene’s Grim Awakening, Monster (The Zeuorian Series) and My Watcher (The Zeuorian Series) YA Dark Fantasy Thriller.

BookBuzz.net Book Promotion Review

BookBuzz Promotional Service Review

BookBuzz Site

BookBuzz.net Logo

In April I decided to try out BookBuzz $99 promotion that included NetGalley to promote the rerelease of my book The Zeuorian Awakening a YA Fantasy / Science Fiction Thriller.

Package Features:

Online Book Marketing Exposure
  • Post Books Online to BookBuzz.net, BookHitch, Shelfari, NewBookJournal, BookJetty, Library Thing, and/or Published.com and more.
  • Post your book available for review to several lists and online groups.
  • If your book is $2.99 or less, we will also post it to a few newsletters to try and get more sales for a couple of days during our promotion.
Online Media Exposure
  • Distribute press release to at least 3 online PR sites (Free-Press-Release.com, PRLog.org, CNN iReport, MyPRGenie.com, and/or PR.com
  • Send Press Releases electronically to 50 Book Reviewers
  • Send Press Releases electronically to 100 Book Stores that might be interested in your book.
  • Search Engine Registration for your website
Social Media Exposure
  • Marketing to 30,000+ book enthusiasts on Twitter
  • Depending on your genre marketing to 5,000 to 20,000 people on Facebook
NetGalley
  • Post your book on the site for all readers to review for a month.

*NetGalley generally costs to Indie Authors $399 for six months or $599 if you add advertising with the their newsletter. For more Information click here.

Marketing Facts

I know when it comes to marketing, having worked in the field for 20 years, you’ll receive a spike in interest when you start to promote and then it’ll drop down as other advertisements, press releases, etc… bump yours. The key to success is constant “strategic” promotion of your product (i.e. book).

So if you’re considering BookBuzz keep the above marketing fact in the back of your mind. A month of advertising isn’t going to make your book an instant success. Followers (aka readers) do. The more dedicated followers you have, the more sales. That’s why Stephan King books practically become a top seller within a few months of release, because he has a huge, I mean HUGE, following. As an author, indie or traditionally published, you must increase your number of followers to be successful as well as offer more books for them to read. Good books not crappy ones.

No one wants to read a bad book, especially if they have to pay for it. I know myself, I stopped buying books from an author after reading something I didn’t like from them. Although, keep in mind, not everyone is going to like your book no matter how well you written it. We all have different tastes. So those readers, you need to let go of and focus on the ones who like your genre and writing style. Yes, I know that is a little confusing. How do you know if bad reviews are due to your book being badly written or the reader is just not into your book? Easy. Before you publish, have it read by other authors who aren’t afraid to tear it apart. Don’t wait until after you publish. Then you’ll never really know, which it is. Because reviewers who aren’t into your book will give it a bad review regardless.

Anyway here is the results (analytics) for using BookBuzz:

Online Book Marketing Exposure

What they advertised they would do:

Post Books Online to BookBuzz.net, BookHitch, Shelfari, NewBookJournal, BookJetty, Library Thing, and/or Published.com and more.

What they actually did

I already had posted the book on Goodreads and Shelfari

They posted On

They did not posted on

What they advertised they would do:

Post your book available for review to several lists and online groups.

What they actually did
What they advertised they would do:

If your book is $2.99 or less, we will also post it to a few newsletters to try and get more sales for a couple of days during our promotion.

What they actually did

They didn’t not advertise my book as promised despite the fact it was offered for $2.99 as an ebook.

Online Media Exposure

What they advertised they would do:

Distribute press release to at least 3 online PR sites (Free-Press-Release.com, PRLog.org, CNN iReport, MyPRGenie.com, and/or PR.com

What they actually did
What they advertised they would do:

Send Press Releases electronically to 50 Book Reviewers. As well as Send Press Releases electronically to 100 Book Stores that might be interested in your book.

What they actually did

They requested a copy of my book overview, author bio and links, which they plugged into a PR template. No special copy editing, revisions, or anything to make it stand out.

Sent Press Releases to:

What they advertised they would do:

Search Engine Registration for your website

What they actually did

They did not register the site that I’m aware of.

Social Media Exposure

What they advertised they would do:

Marketing to 30,000+ book enthusiasts on Twitter. Depending on your genre marketing to 5,000 to 20,000 people on Facebook

What they actually did

NetGalley

What they advertised they would do:

Post your book on the site for all readers to review for a month.

What they actually did

https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/show/id/63326

Reviews From NetGalley

*I did notice the book had been wrongly posted as a romance. Hence why several reviewers were disappointed with the lack of romance in the book. However the ones who realized it was a thriller, really liked it. This goes back to knowing who your readers are and who aren’t (i.e. which reviews to ignore).

BookBuzz Service

I wasn’t particularly pleased with the way they handle my business. You can tell they have everything pretty much automated. No personal touch. Limited communications. They don’t answer emails. (Not unless you harass them.) They don’t share what they had done. You have to hunt on the web to check where they posted your book, if at all. The reports they forward from NetGalley, you’re not able to view reviewers profiles, even as a member, only BookBuzz can.

The only benefit I got from their service was being able to post my book on NetGalley for $99 instead of forking over $399.

Analytics

  • Book Reviews = 16 ($99/16 = $6.19 I spent per review )
  • # of Reviewers Interested in reading the next book = 9 ($99/9 = $11 I spent for qualified leads for my next book)
  • Book Sales generated from BookBuzz marketing during April to May = 3 books
  • Czpublishing.com unique visitors (229 from April 1 to May 1)
  • Cindyzablockis.com unique visitors (63 from April 1 to May 1)
  • Thezeuorian.com unique visitors (57 from April 1 to May 1)

Bottom Line

Would I use BookBuzz again?

Yes and No. I would use them for posting my book on NetGalley, but nothing else. I can do a lot better than they did with PR and online Promotions. However, I may just go straight to NetGalley when I have more books to post, because I can split the time each book is posted during the 6 months. (i.e. 3 books for 2 months = $133 advertising cost per book). Or I might split the cost with other authors. Anyone interested?

Update 10/31/16
I won’t use either BookBuzz or NetGalley again. I had time to review sales during BookBuzz promotion and posting on NetGalley. I only received 1 sale from it. The reviewers who posted on Goodreads and Amazon majority (with a few exceptions) weren’t my audience so their posts actually hurt sales, because they bashed my book for not being a romance.

I realized it is better to target reviewers who are your audience since they will more than like the story as well as discuss it with other potential buyers than NetGalley or Amazon Top Reviewers. I found those reviewers will read all types of books (even ones they wouldn’t normally read), which is okay, but the genre they don’t generally like, they’ll bash and give bad reviews. It has nothing to do with the book actually being bad. I saw them give Stephan King and Harry Potter bad reviews.


About The Author

C. Zablockis is an Indie author of paranormal, dark fantasy and horror novels. She published Lexi Greene’s Dangerous Lesson, Lexi Greene’s Grim Awakening, Monster (The Zeuorian Series) and My Watcher (The Zeuorian Series) YA Dark Fantasy Thriller.