One thing I found frustrating when I self-published my first novel, Mercury Falls, in 2009 was the difficulty in finding people willing to review the book. I knew I had written a good book and I was convinced that if I could get it in the hands of a few dozen influential people, Mercury Falls would be a success (at the time, I defined “success” as 1,000 copies sold; since then Mercury Falls has sold over 60,000). After the success of Mercury Falls, I worried a little less about the difficulty in finding reviewers, but it continued to be a problem, particularly with my self-published books. I found myself spending hours scouring the web for the email addresses of book bloggers and Amazon reviewers–and when I got finally got around to actually emailing reviewers, most of them either wouldn’t respond or would decline my offer of a free review copy of my book. Some of them even got offended by the offer, and took the time to berate me for emailing them. The unmitigated gall of offering a free book, with no strings attached!
I kept thinking, “There have to be thousands of people out there who would love to get free books for review. Why is it so hard to find them?” It seemed to me that there should be an online clearinghouse for connecting authors and book reviewer–a sort of OKCupid for the book reading community. I couldn’t find any such site, though, so I decided to use my skills as a web developer to create one. The result was a site called BookBloggers. The site was an immediate hit among both reviewers and authors.
Around the time BookBloggers began to take off, so did the sales of my books. I was doing so well writing books that I decided to write full-time, which meant putting a lot of other projects–including BookBloggers–on hold. In retrospect, I wish I had kept it going, but I just had too much stuff going on. Lately, though, I’ve decided to re-launch BookBloggers, for a variety of reasons. Customer reviews, particularly on Amazon.com, are more important than ever. And with all the turmoil going on in the publishing industry, I think it’s vital for independent authors to maintain direct communications with readers, outside of Amazon or any other publishing/bookselling behemoth.
So if you are an author or someone who likes to read and write about books, please consider signing up for BookBloggers. You can post books (either paperbacks or ebooks) for review, or request books to review. (Note that being a “book reviewer” is not as big a deal as it sounds: basically you just have to read the book and post a few sentences on Amazon.com, Goodreads, or some other site. Simple.) The site is still in beta, so if you run into any problems or have suggestions for improvements, please contact me by using the form on the site or by emailing me at rob(at)robertkroese(dot)com. I’ll be working to improve the site over the next few weeks, as well as expanding the number of books available for review.