So I've started Beirut - An Explosive Thriller's review programme. It's reasonably wearying, tracking down active book blogs and websites, flicking through them to see if they're interested in broadly the type of book I'm getting up to, finding out what their review submission guidelines are, then emailing them with pitches, vouchers or attached book files. But, as I've said before, if every review is 10 readers, 100 emails is a thousand pairs of eyes.
Of course, getting heavier hitting media is great, but the competition for those platforms is both fierce and, all too often, restricted for self-published authors.
Which is why the review of Beirut - An Explosive Thriller in the Huffington Post had me doing Little Dances Of Happiness when it dropped late last night.
Alexander McNabb outdid himself in his second novel, Beirut, An Explosive Thriller, another adventure-filled story loaded with intrigue, espionage, love, murder, international hoods and plenty of violence.
Okay, that's a good start. This next bit, for me, was the jaw-dropper. The writer is an important Lebanese media figure, former AFP and UPI staffer and was one of the Monday Morning team, so knows what she's on about:
The author has an uncanny understanding of the country's dynamics and power plays between the belligerent factions, post-civil war of 1975-1990.
McNabb seems to have amazing insight into Lebanon's convoluted, sectarian political system.
He masterfully merges people from the Maronite Christian community to confuse readers, with snippets of character descriptions that would fit any or all of the current leaders and former/remaining warlords.
His very expressive narrative has an eerie resemblance to the current status quo with all of Lebanon's dysfunctional problems.
Oh wow. I think she just gave me too much credit but I am most certainly not going to complain. The review goes for a showy finish, a little like a great chef putting a touch of 'English' on the plate as he presents it to the pass:
Beirut is a gripping, fast-paced exciting book that may well jar Lebanese and others familiar with the city and its heavy legacy. But it's a must read.
I'm still grinning today. Now, let's face realities. Not all reviews will be like this. Some people out there will hate Beirut, or just go 'meh' (the worst reaction, actually. I'd rather vilification than indifference. At least the former cares about you!). But, as Oscar Wilde tells us, there's only one thing worse than being talked about - not being talked about.
My experience with Olives - A Violent Romance taught me some stuff about how people approach buying books, and it's been something of a surprise. Reviews are important, as is word of mouth recommendation. But it actually takes quite a lot to make someone buy a book. It's not a case of reading a good review and rushing to Amazon to click that all important click. People seem to need quite a few triggers pushed at once. I'd personally rather book buying were a more, well, male process. But it ain't.
So it's going to take more than a few reviews out there. It's going to take a lot and that means a certain degree of relentlessness in the whole business of promotion. Being creative and not just repetitive will help to ease the pain, but to all of you I'd like to say sorry in advance. I'll try not to be a PITA, but you know the best thing you can do to shut me up.
Yup. Buy the book. :)