Sign Your Book… And Get Your Reader to Review It.

When you are signing your book at an event you are in a perfect situation to encourage an action from the person standing in front of you. This person is already clearly interested in you and your book so the term “targeted audience” is beautifully applicable. You have a plum presented to you. Make the most of it. Good eye contact, firm hand shake, and a clear suggestion on what to do next. As you hand your signed book to the person who came to see you, say:

“I hope you enjoy it, and I look forward to seeing your reader review on amazon.” *

WOW. Take a moment to consider what you have just done. You cemented a relationship with a reader, and then not only suggested a course of action: read, enjoy, comment — you indicated that the relationship will be part of that. “*I* look forward to seeing *your* review.” You may as well say, “We’re not done here, you and I. And I look forward to the next time our paths cross.” That that point of contact will be on a content-sharing forum and not face-to-face again is irrelevant. Social networking, baby.

Your Autographed by the Author sticker on the book will serve to visually remind the reader of your meeting and the expectations on both parts: the reader is expecting to be entertained, and the author is hoping for a specific follow-up action. When the readers sees the bright shiny foil stamp they will remember the meeting, and likely the interchange.

Let me restate: when speaking to your audience, whether on your website or in person, be clear in your request. Is it: Read, Buy, Click, Go, Act, Consider…? What do you want them to want to do. (Read that sentence twice. It’s the key of this whole post.)

Look at Barack Obama’s site for example. There are navigational cues everywhere: Meet Barack and Michelle, Find out more about issues, the list is plentiful. But his site makes it visually clear what the desired primary action is. Notice the obvious big red button — essentially the only red thing in the window: DONATE NOW. As you get further in his site that red button keeps beckoning. Brilliant.

There are many options, but the action the site wants you to take is clear. When you hand your book to your reader, encourage them to “vote” for you on amazon.com. It’s very possible that that course of action simply never occurred to them. You have planted the seed and left a bright, shining reminder to do it.

* Please note: I say “amazon” here as an EXAMPLE. By all means insert your preferred content sharing site. But amazon is the industry leader and will likely appeal to the widest comfort zone. In your ten-second window to relay this information, you will have to politically pick and choose.

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8 thoughts on “Sign Your Book… And Get Your Reader to Review It.

  1. I need to work more on this method for my site. I have a fairly great readership but they seem to stop there. I want them to comment.

    I’ve tried asking thought provoking questions but often get emails saying “love your site, but don’t have much to say”.

    BTW, you’re right, every time I see those stickers on my books, I get the warm fuzzies of having met the author.

  2. Excellent blog! I went up to Obama’s site. They’ve been updating and refining the site design periodically, depending upon where they’re in the campaign. Splendid example. (And of course, I had to donate once again to the campaign.)

    I was just having this sort of a conversation with a friend of mine who has written many books but hasn’t made it out of the mid-lists. She was deliberating the pros and cons of having a professionally designed and maintained site versus a do-it-yourself-quickie. My response was: Your web presence is there to draw readers, convert readers to fans, and sell, sell, sell.

    This made her very uncomfortable. Most writers think of themselves as artists and not necessarily as salespeople of their art. While they write commercial fiction, they’d rather have the commercial part of it happen without it making a ripple in their lives.

  3. A tangent…

    Abi, if the comment box is empty, then clicking on the “preview” button is a do-nothing action, but the “post” button goes off to a browser error page.

  4. Thanks Haven, for the validation of those warm fuzzies. I remember when I was working at the Tattered Cover in Denver I would always face out the books with “proof” of having been “touched” by the author.

    And thanks Keira for the kudos on the blog post. The Obama site is expertly crafted. Not a mistake or jarring spot to be found.

    And maybe you could tell your friend that even high art gets marketed… or it languishes.

  5. I’ve used this very method to gather more than 40 reader reviews on my Amazon page, which in turn help convince more people that they must buy my cookbook! People are more likely to post a review if you make a direct appeal. I always ask for it.

    Thanks for bringing up this excellent point, Emily!

  6. Keira-

    Yep, that error message is a gentle reminder to fill out the form… I’ll make it prettier one of these days (RWA prep is keeping me rather busy)!

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