J.J. Hebert: How to get editorial book reviews and reviews from your readers

Nonfiction Authors Podcast | October 4, 2023, 10:00 am PT / 1:00 pm ET

“If you get a positive review from Kirkus. or Library Journal. or any of these major trade publications, that can do wonders for your book sales in terms of bulk sales to bookstores and libraries.”
-J.J. Hebert

J.J. Hebert MindStir Media How to Work With a Partner Publisher

J.J. Hebert is the founder and owner of the hybrid book publisher MindStir Media, a 2023 Inc. 5000 fastest-growing company. MindStir Media helps people from all walks of life self-publish, distribute and market their books. MindStir is partnered with Shark Tank’s Kevin Harrington and Mariel Hemingway, the granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway. Hebert is also USA Today, Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author of books which have won 9 literary awards. When he’s not busy writing his next book, Hebert is busy providing mentoring and self-publishing services at MindStir. As a business person, Hebert has been featured in major publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc, Yahoo! Finance, LA Weekly, and Maxim, among others.

Nonfiction Authors Podcast: J.J. Hebert

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Show Notes

Links 

In this episode…

  • The difference between editorial and trade reviews.
  • How to incorporate reviews into the writing process.
  • The difference between paid and unpaid reviews.
  • The importance of submission guidelines for trade publications.
  • Why it’s important to have reviews before you publish your book.
  • How to get customer reviews before publishing your book.
  • The importance of metadata when acquiring reviews for your book.
  • How to gain reviews from your current following of readers.
  • More about influencer and celebrity reviews.

Transcript

[00:00:35] Carla King: Hi everybody, and welcome to the Nonfiction Authors Podcast. Our guest today is J.J. Hebert, and we’ll discuss the importance of editorial and reader book reviews, and all those surrounding tasks in your publishing journey. J.J. Hebert is the founder and owner of the hybrid book publisher MindStir Media, which is a 2023 Inc. 5000 fastest growing company. MindStir Media helps people from all walks of life distribute and market their books. They’re partnered with Shark Tank’s Kevin Harrington, and Mariel Hemingway, the granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway. Hebert is also a USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and #1 Best Selling Author of books which have won nine literary awards.

[00:01:21] J.J. Hebert: Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it, Carla.

[00:01:23] Carla King: You’re so accomplished, and your latest is being included in the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies. Congratulations. How does that feel?

[00:01:33] J.J. Hebert: It feels great. Yeah, it’s about 14 years in the works. So we finally made it. I think most of the companies on there are startups–they’ve only been around for a handful of years. To be growing 14 years in, I think, is a testament to all the hard work we put in–and the fact that publishing is still growing. I think there’s a misconception out there that publishing might be in a decline, but we’re seeing that there’s a big market for people to share their books and to reach an audience.

[00:01:59] Carla King: Exactly. I think what’s been failing–is the traditional method of publishing. So the hybrid model and the self model is on the rise for sure.

[00:02:09] J.J. Hebert: I agree. Yeah. Traditional publishing–I think for the longest time–was the first option for most. Self-publishing was a backup option, and I think I even fell victim to that early on. I was trying to find an agent–this was in the early 2000s. And I thought traditional publishing was the only way to go. But now, with all the self-publishing success stories, it’s a much more accepted option. And I would say it’s a viable option now, in 2023, versus what it used to be.

[00:02:35] Carla King: Absolutely. And that is for the professional self-publishers among us who hire out the good help. Not the people who throw up a book and get 200 copies sold to their friends and family. So we’re talking about the self-publisher who is a professional, who hires the right people and who follows the traditional publishing flow, because they really have defined the flow that is necessary. So we’ll talk about that. We’re going to talk about reviews and their place in this process. But first, let’s define what kind of reviews there are. Can you talk about editorial and trade reviews versus reader and customer reviews to start?

[00:03:17] J.J. Hebert: So editorial and trade reviews. I would probably point toward magazines or publications that specialize in reviewing books or covering books. So Kirkus Review, Publishers Weekly–those are a couple known options that the average person knows about. Basically, those are professional reviews– they are professional critique reviews that authors will add to their sell sheet, or their marketing materials on their website or whatnot.

It’s really a helpful way to sell to book buyers, at bookstores, and libraries, and library journals. Another option for editorial or trade reviews–so these librarians and book buyers at bookstores–they’re looking for not just customer reviews, which can be helpful, but mainly for professional reviews, because they trust certain publications to tell them what’s good and what isn’t.

If you get a positive review from Kirkus or Library Journal or any of these major trade publications, that can do wonders for your book sales in terms of bulk sales to bookstores and libraries.

As far as customer reviews, you can think of it in terms of Amazon reviews. Amazon product reviews is a great example. That’s usually where everyone starts–is Amazon. John Doe will buy your book through Amazon, will hopefully enjoy the book, and then write a review on Amazon.

So that would be a customer review. Also, obviously Barnes and Noble has their own website and has their own review interface. And then places like GoodReads.com, which is a social network that Amazon owns–there’s a review option there too. So those would be considered customer reviews.

[00:04:50] Carla King: And we’ll talk about how authors might approach getting those with the help of the professional services as well. So during the publishing process, you’ve got editing, you’ve got design, you’ve got marketing and promotion. We’ll talk about these kinds of reviews and where they come in that process.

[00:05:09] J.J. Hebert: Yeah. You want to start early if at all possible with independently published books. For self-published books, the process is a little bit different than a traditionally published book, because usually traditional books, there’s a one to two year window between the time when you sign on the dotted line and when the book is actually released.

So you have more time to spend on some of these editorial reviews–sending your work out to some of the big names. And then also consider the fact that Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly and some of the big, well known, established trade publications–a lot of them don’t really want to do anything, or have anything to do with independently published or self-published books. They have separate divisions for that.

You want to start as early as you can. I would say get a handful of editorial reviews early on, maybe four weeks or before if it’s an independent. For self-published books, you want to start four weeks before publication, getting it going. Some of them will take several weeks.

Better if you can do four months in advance–that will just give you more time. But the nice thing about self-publishing–independent publishing–is that you can always add these editorial reviews later on, too. It’s not like you have to hold up your publication waiting for an editorial review. So for a Midwest book review–which does a lot with independently published books–they might be able to turn it around in a couple weeks or a couple months. Whereas you might send out a request to another publication, it takes them six months, and you’ve already published your book and it’s, ‘Oh, wait, let me add this now.’ And there’s nothing wrong with that. So you can add it after the fact. That’s my strategy.

[00:06:37] Carla King: There are the trade reviewers that you can submit to without paying in advance. And then there are the paid trade reviews. And some of them have both options. Do you use the paid book reviews from the trade as well?

[00:06:53] J.J. Hebert: In the independent world, yeah, I definitely use the paid option. So there’s a Kirkus Indie option where it’s a paid review and you can buy an expedited service. So you’re still getting that Kirkus name on there. It’s not guaranteed to be positive. So you have to keep that in mind. Hopefully there’s some sort of excerpt that you can share or sample that you can share from that review as a selling point.

I almost overlook–I wouldn’t say overlook, but I discount a lot of the bigger names in independent publishing or self-publishing, because a lot of them will reject you outright. So I almost don’t count on them. I don’t count on Publishers Weekly unless it’s through BookLife, which is their self-published arm for reviews. I don’t really count on Kirkus unless it’s Kirkus Indie. I don’t really count on Foreword reviews, unless it’s Clarion–some of these paid versions–because then at least you’re guaranteed.

It’s hard to make it part of your marketing plan unless you know that it’s coming, whereas if you’re traditionally published, there’s a much better chance of getting a Publisher’s Weekly review or Kirkus review. And then you have, like I said, additional time to send it out three months in advance, or six months in advance, or whatever each publication requires.

There’s also different submission guidelines for each trade publication, too. And you have to be really mindful, really careful how you submit because they’re looking for ways to just reject it. So if you don’t follow those submission guidelines, you’re out, it’s game over for you.

So if you are going to go after some of these bigger names, make sure you leave plenty of room or plenty of time, and make sure you follow those submission guidelines. Otherwise there’s no chance.

[00:08:17] Carla King: Absolutely. And I know that when–I think Kirkus was the first to offer paid reviews–that we were all very suspicious of it, including the trade, until Kirkus started giving bad reviews for bad books.

You pay a few hundred bucks and you’re not guaranteed to get a good review because they are reviewing it for the trade, not for the author who pays them or the independent publisher who pays them for the review. So that’s actually a good thing in my opinion.

[00:08:46] J.J. Hebert: I agree. Because, there’s integrity there, and if Kirkus starts just phoning it in, the trade is going to notice, or the industry’s going to notice, and book buyers won’t take Kirkus seriously anymore. So yeah, there needs to be a healthy dose of reality with any of these reviewers or these services, and needs to be positive and negative depending on the quality of the book.

[00:09:07] Carla King: And you mentioned–I think there’s also Midwest Book Review, Reader’s Favorite–which I hadn’t heard of–and Independent Book Review. I think there’s San Francisco Book Review. There are a lot of trade reviewers.

[00:09:19] J.J. Hebert: Yeah, there’s a whole bunch. And honestly, you can Google Editorial Reviews and you’ll see a whole list. The ones that I like are Kirkus Indie Reviews, Clarion Review, which is part of Foreword Reviews, Publishers Weekly has their BookLife for Indie authors, where you can get some sort of guaranteed review again. Not guaranteed positive, but you’ll actually get a review. Midwest Book Review I’ve had a lot of luck with, and they’re fairly well known in the space. And I think it’s $50. It’s basically just a reading fee. It’s pretty cheap–something along those lines. Once again, not guaranteed to be positive, but they also have an awards program and whatnot.

So Kirkus and Foreword are fairly expensive. I think they are several hundred dollars per review, which can be a little bit expensive for some authors. But as far as affordability–Midwest Book Review, Readers Favorite, and I think Independent Book Review is just maybe $100 or $150, or something along those lines, but you can go on their websites and check it out.

[00:10:11] Carla King: And it can be even more if you make it a rush job.

[00:10:14] J.J. Hebert: Yeah. If you’re waiting too long, and you only have a two or three week window, then yeah, there’s usually expedited options. But you’d rather not pay for those if you don’t have to.

[00:10:24] Carla King: And why is it important to have trade reviews coming out of the gate when you publish?

[00:10:30] J.J. Hebert: I think it’s important if you’re looking to get any sort of brick and mortar sales, or sales through bookstores and independent bookstores, in general. Because like I said earlier, a lot of these book buyers and librarians are looking to these trade publications to find new books that are positively reviewed and from up and coming authors. And so they really do lean on those trade publications for products to buy and sell.

[00:10:55] Carla King: So as you said, it’s not absolutely necessary to get those. But customer reviews, on the other hand–especially on Amazon–really count for a lot with readers who are shopping, who have their credit card out, ready to purchase a book or get the information. So how does one get customer reviews in advance?

[00:11:17] J.J. Hebert: So just to wrap up the other topic as far as editorial reviews-like you said, it’s almost not even necessary in some cases. If you don’t care about brick and mortar, if you don’t care about independent bookstores or getting your book into stores, you can basically skip the editorial review process–there’s no reason for it.

But as far as customer reviews–there’s several items, or several platforms, that I like to use to garner Amazon reviews, in particular. And we mentioned Amazon a lot because Amazon is the king of retail for books. And so if your book isn’t on Amazon, it’s basically not available in the publishing world, unfortunately.

I like to use GoodReads. I mentioned GoodReads earlier in our conversation. GoodReads has a free author program that they provide. GoodReads actually started off as an independent company early on in their life–in their inception–and Amazon saw what they were doing.

GoodReads is basically like Facebook, only it’s geared specifically toward book lovers, so you can imagine the value there as an author. So they offer this free author program that you can join. And part of that includes a giveaway program. And that is a paid option. I think it’s a couple hundred dollars.

So what they’ll do is–there’s millions of people on GoodReads, they’ll run a giveaway for you. You can indicate how many copies you want to give away, whether it’s a print or ebook. And people can enter into that giveaway to win a free copy or a free download. And in exchange, most of these winners will post reviews on GoodReads, and then also Amazon. And the nice part, too, is that GoodReads has–because it’s a community of book lovers–a lot of these community members also have their own book blogs or book shows or whatever. And so you can really leverage GoodReads even beyond the GoodReads website.

If you look at a lot of the profiles on GoodReads, you’ll see a lot of these people have their own blogs, or the new thing now is influencer marketing. So a lot of these members also have their own channel on YouTube. Or maybe they’re posting on their social media, on Instagram, or TikTok, or whatnot. So there’s a lot of value in GoodReads giveaways. Definitely worth taking a look.

[00:13:24] Carla King: So if I were to do a GoodReads giveaway, and I wanted to reach a certain niche of book blogger, is there a way to reach them? Or do I just throw my book out and hope my metadata works?

[00:13:37] J.J. Hebert: Metadata is very important. Obviously your description is part of that, and very important on your book cover and tagline. But beyond that, yeah, they’re gonna basically leverage their entire database. And there’s a page for giveaways on their website.

People are constantly looking on that Giveaways page, and a lot of them are book bloggers. I remember even early on with Unconventional. This was 2009 when it was published, but I was really getting into GoodReads Giveaways, probably 2011 or 2012. I remember sending out the winning copies and then following up, because you’ll have the contact information so you can follow up with the winning copy, but also a cover letter. And you can introduce yourself, and make it personalized, and sign each copy. And I remember getting emails back from some of these winners telling me they have book blogs, and they wanted to have me on the blog, or they wanted to do this for me or that for me because they really enjoyed it. So it’s not just a faceless transaction. You can build relationships through GoodReads Giveaways as well.

[00:14:36] Carla King: And they probably have podcasts nowadays.

[00:14:38] J.J. Hebert: Yeah. Podcasting, obviously, is big. Hence the podcast that we’re on now. But yeah, podcasting. And then TikTok is exploding. BookTok i s huge on TikTok. So a lot of the book bloggers, they also have a TikTok account where they’re pumping up the books that they want to sell. A lot of them have their own Amazon affiliate account too. So they get a piece of the pie. So there’s an incentive there for them to sell copies of your books. They’ll have their own affiliate link to your book on their website, or on their TikTok, or wherever they’re posting it.

[00:15:07] Carla King: Great. And so for the GoodReads Giveaway–does the author send these out in advance or once the book is published?

[00:15:16] J.J. Hebert: Usually you want to wait until the book is available on Amazon, because you’ll have to claim your author profile, or you’ll have to claim your book on Amazon and on GoodReads. So it’s not really an advanced option. I would say it’s probably the first couple of weeks you’d want to get going on this. As far as advanced options, I would recommend netgalley.com. A lot of professional publishers and authors will use NetGalley. And that’s more of an advanced option to get reviews.

So basically you’re uploading your galley or PDF, and it’s encrypted so people can’t just share it freely. Obviously there’s a fee there, but it’s basically an outreach program to reviewers so people can download your book and then review it. And then once they do that, they can download more books and review those. And so it’s a nice process. NetGalley–not sure what the pricing is right now. It seemed to be changing over the past couple of years. I don’t know if you’re aware of the pricing.

[00:16:04] Carla King: Yeah, I am. There’s a few ways to get a discount. It’s expensive. IBPA, if you’re a member, they have a discount, but the best discount is through BooksGoSocial.com. Honestly, it’s the way to get there. I think for a hundred bucks, you can get into NetGalley, which is awesome.

[00:16:19] J.J. Hebert: Yeah. So NetGalley, I can’t speak highly enough about NetGalley if you want early reviews. Also there’s a website called LibraryThing.com, which is a less popular version of GoodReads and they have an early reviewers program that’s similar to NetGalley. It’s just lesser known. You’ll see that you can leverage that as an independent author or a publisher. Either way, you can put your book out there. It’s run very similar to the GoodReads Giveaway, but you can do that in advance. Whereas GoodReads, you have to wait until your book is populated on their website.

[00:16:50] Carla King: You can download your GoodReads data and import it into LibraryThing, so you can have all of that data there as well. And they do treat the authors–you get an author page as well. And I think on both of the platforms, you can also supply EPUBs, ebooks, as well.

[00:17:07] J.J. Hebert: You can. So if you don’t want to go through the process of manually sending out or mailing out each copy, you can just offer a download. So offer your EPUB version of your ebook, and they can just download that if they win.

So yeah, I think–did LibraryThing come first? I think it did. I think it was the original.

[00:17:23] Carla King: You can tell that it’s older because it looks older.

[00:17:27] J.J. Hebert: Yeah. And then GoodReads came in a little behind it, and then Amazon chose the winner, basically. They saw GoodReads and liked it. Liked it probably better than LibraryThing and bought it out.

You can’t beat it in terms of affordability, and NetGalley is right up there too. I’m not sure how easy it is to sign up just as an individual author. I know they do a lot with publishers. It’s been a minute since I’ve gone through the signup as a publisher back in the day.

[00:17:53] Carla King: And for nonfiction authors, most of us form our own publishing companies–LLCs for instance–so we can sign up as publishers. Even if we only publish one book, and a workbook, and a course.

[00:18:08] J.J. Hebert: Good point, yeah. So we also touched on book bloggers. I think also, another item to really consider in terms of getting customer reviews is your own list. If you’re a nonfiction author, you probably have your own email list, right? Whether it’s business related–say you’re an entrepreneur–you probably have your own list, and you’re probably writing a book to use as a marketing tool for your business anyway, so you can tie the two together.

So don’t be bashful about sending out an email to your list or lists. If you want to segment it–if you’re able to–then go ahead. But yeah, send out an email to your list, mentioning that your book is available now, and you could stress the importance of reviews. You could even buy some downloads, or you can get some coupon codes from Amazon, and you could share those with some of the people on your list too. I think you can still gift eBooks on Amazon, right?

[00:18:54] Carla King: The KDP select program–the exclusive 90 day ebook program–which I don’t always recommend, allows you to do that kind of thing, but it can be worth it just for the ebook.

[00:19:06] J.J. Hebert: You can look into it, but you might be able to gift your ebook to certain people as well. So if there are some people on your list, or if you want to reach out to certain people individually and offer them the book, you can do that. Or you can just send them the EPUB if you want–if you trust someone that they’re not going to, obviously.

[00:19:21] Carla King: You know, JJ, I love BookFunnel for that. So BookFunnel definitely can be tied to your list, and you can give your book away for free, and it will actually track the people who download it and who haven’t, and send them a message saying, ‘Oh, I noticed you haven’t downloaded your book yet.’ And I always do that for my Beta Readers–my peers and Beta Readers always get free books anyway, right? And they’re the best reviewers, right?

[00:19:46] J.J. Hebert: Right. Because they see what you’re doing and they want to contribute in a positive way.

[00:19:50] Carla King: And they feel invested in your career because they’ve helped you write the book.

[00:19:54] J.J. Hebert: And then, obviously, there’s paid programs out there. Just be really careful that you’re not buying reviews. That’s against the terms and conditions on Amazon. So you can’t say, ‘Oh, I’m going to pay 10 bucks per review.’ That’s going to get you in trouble. What you can do is you can pay for outreach–which is basically what GoodReads and NetGalley, all those other companies are doing–and you’re paying them for outreach, or leveraging their database.

If you Google Amazon reviews programs,  and things like that, you’ll see it. So the key to look for is that you’re not paying for reviews. You’re paying for, like I said, outreach.

If someone has a list of reviewers that you can leverage, and they’re offering that for a payment, that should be okay. You should be able to ask the service provider more about their service and just make sure you’re not paying for those reviews.

[00:20:36] Carla King: So at MindStir, some of your authors may have assistants who can help them find the bloggers or outreach services, or maybe your Marketing Department can do that as well.

[00:20:48] J.J. Hebert: Yeah, we have a wide array of marketing services. So we do have review programs where you’re not paying per review. We see an average number of reviews as a result of our outreach, but we have email marketing campaigns that go out.

We have our own list of Amazon reviewers. These are people who have established accounts, and a lot of them have their own book logs, actually. And so they review books professionally. This is what they love to do. They have affiliate accounts, so they make some money on it, too. And, they’re not always positive. We can’t guarantee positive customer reviews, but reviews on Amazon are especially important based on algorithms. At Amazon, no one really knows exactly what the algorithm is, but I think there’s a consensus that they do provide more visibility to your book if it’s well reviewed and there’s consistent sales, whereas if there are no sales and no reviews you’re pretty much dead in the water.

There are millions and millions of books out there. You need to make sure it’s well reviewed and there’s some constant sales just to trigger the Amazon algorithms into recommending your book to their database. Customer reviews are very important in terms of Amazon, but also obviously it’s for customers.

So it’s for a John Doe who hops on there and looks at your book and likes the cover, likes the description. And, if he doesn’t see any reviews, he might not take the plunge and buy it. But if he sees 20 or 30 reviews–even if they’re not all positive, but sees a wide range of reviews, he might be more apt to actually buy it.

I know it seems like common sense, but you have to treat it like a product in getting those reviews and showing the consumer that it’s a worthwhile product to buy. 

[00:22:19] Carla King: Thanks for that. And there’s one more category we want to talk about, which is influencer or celebrity reviews. Which is very intimidating for a lot of authors.

[00:22:29] J.J. Hebert: From my standpoint, celebrity marketing is game changing. We have some celebrities working with MindStir Media and some of our books, like Kevin Harrington from Shark Tank and Mariel Hemingway–Ernest Hemingway’s granddaughter. And then we have a few other celebrities who work with us. And we’ve reached out to them directly and worked out deals with them. They can help us promote our own books.

But you can do a lot of this outreach on your own. There’s a website that I like, Contact Any Celebrity, run by a guy named Jordan McAuley, who I’ve been following for a few years. He’s created a database of agents and publicists and managers of these celebrities. So if you have a celebrity in mind that you want to get your book into his or her hands, instead of just sending a DM or sending a letter, you can contact that celebrity through their publicist or manager or official representative. And you’re more apt to get some sort of reply. Even if it’s not a yes, you’ll likely get some sort of reply. And Contact Any Celebrity has emails and phone numbers and ways that you can reach these celebrities.

This is where a lot of agents provide their information, and work together is through databases like Contact Any Celebrity. And obviously they build up their own Rolodex, or their own database, throughout the years. But yeah, this is a quick way to get that information that you need.

[00:23:45] Carla King: So if I’m aiming to attract a celebrity, or kind of a group or niche of celebrities, what should I be doing in advance of that contact, do you think?

[00:23:56] J.J. Hebert: Well, first you should know who your target audience is, obviously, before you even write your book. So that would help you determine, ‘Okay, who would be a good fit in terms of an influencer or a celebrity?’

If you have a business book–Kevin Harrington from Shark Tank or Lori from Shark Tank or Barbara Corcoran, or, one of those Shark Tank members, you can’t really go wrong in terms of getting an endorsement. Or Seth Godin or some big name like that.

Shoot for the stars. I mean, the worst they can say is no, or just not answer to you, but it’s worth it. As far as preparation, that target audience I think is important, and knowing who to contact based on that. But I would put together a really professional sell sheet or pitch, and really refine it over time.

I don’t think you really need to get into it any further than an elevator pitch. So 30 seconds. It might be all you get with some of these publicists and managers. So just make it short and sweet. I wouldn’t go on and ramble away, but if you have credentials as a nonfiction author–which you probably do–you’re probably an entrepreneur or a business owner as well. I would share that information early on.

Maybe make it so that there’s some sort of mutual benefit there. So it’s not just you taking from them, but what can you do for that celebrity as well? And that’s what I’ve done throughout the years is– ‘What can we do for the author?’

In the case of Kevin Harrington from Shark Tank–he has a lot of people who come to him that need help with publishing. He was actively looking for a publisher who he could just hand these deals off to, because a publisher that he obviously respects and trusts, he had been looking for quite a while. So when I came along and reached out to him it worked really well.

And the same goes for your book. I would reach out and offer something that’s mutually beneficial. Maybe you can work together on some other program or maybe you can help the entrepreneur or the celebrity in some way that would help.

[00:25:38] Carla King: Interesting. I was just thinking about memoirists as well, who might be writing on a certain niche, or maybe a cause, that also the celebrity is involved with the same cause, for instance.

[00:25:50] J.J. Hebert: Exactly. A lot of celebrities are involved with causes or charities. So that’s a great angle to use. Again, try not to just be a taker, try to be a giver as well, so it’s a mutually beneficial relationship. So you’re not just reaching out, asking them for something. I know people, like Jack Canfield and some of those bigger name authors, they’re very open to helping new authors. Quite a few of my authors have reached out to him and received positive replies. You might look at the name and like you said, you might be intimidated by it. If someone has a gracious heart and wants to help other authors–you’d be surprised.

Obviously contacting someone like Oprah–that’s a shot in the dark. It’s inundated. So I wouldn’t focus on someone like that, but you can try if you want. But I think I would try for some of the tier below.

[00:26:35] Carla King: Somebody that you have a real niche connection with, right? They’re out there, but it does make my heart beat a little faster to think about it.

[00:26:43] J.J. Hebert: But imagine if they say yes. You’ll never know unless you try, right? It’s very cliche to say that it’s true. I mean you have to take your shot.

[00:26:50] Carla King: All great advice. And we’re out of time. I wish I could talk to you for another half an hour. So just to wrap up–what else should non fiction authors know about reviews about MindStir Media–about you?

[00:27:04] J.J. Hebert: I would reach out if you’re looking for help, go to MindStirMedia.com. That’s our official website. You can sign up for a consultation there. I also have a blog that I keep updated–jjhebertonline.com–or you can access it through jjhebert.com as well. And that’ll send you over to my blog, and there’s a lot of important advice there with regards to publishing, and marketing, and writing as well.

So yeah give it a shot. We also have a MindStir Book School on MindStirBookSchool.com, where we’ve been rolling out advice through our MindStir website as well.

[00:27:38] Carla King: All good stuff. And take a look at JJ’s Amazon bestseller books. You’re an inspiration with all your writing and your business success. So thank you for being on the podcast.

[00:27:48] J.J. Hebert: Thanks for having me, Carla. I appreciate it.

[00:27:50] Carla King: And thank you to our nonfiction author listeners and the professionals who help you succeed. Remember, keep writing and publishing. The world needs your experience and expertise.

Quotes from our guest

“If you get a positive review from Kirkus or Library Journal or any of these major trade publications, that can do wonders for your book sales in terms of bulk sales to bookstores and libraries.”

“I discount a lot of the bigger names in independent publishing or self-publishing, because a lot of them will reject you outright. So I almost don’t count on them. I don’t count on Publishers Weekly unless it’s through BookLife, which is their self-published arm for reviews. I don’t really count on Kirkus unless it’s Kirkus Indie. I don’t really count on Foreword reviews, unless it’s Clarion–some of these paid versions–because then at least you’re guaranteed.”

“…You have to be really mindful, really careful, how you submit because they’re looking for ways to just reject it. So if you don’t follow those submission guidelines, you’re out, it’s game over for you.”

“If you don’t care about brick and mortar, if you don’t care about independent bookstores or getting your book into stores, you can basically skip the editorial review process–there’s no reason for it.” 

“So don’t be bashful about sending out an email to your list or lists. If you want to segment it–if you’re able to–then go ahead. But yeah, send out an email to your list, mentioning that your book is available now, and you could stress the importance of reviews.”

“I know it seems like common sense, but you have to treat it like a product, in getting those reviews and showing the consumer that it’s a worthwhile product to buy.”