Get the Word Out With Book Reviews

So, you have written, edited and printed your book. Congratulations! You have accomplished quite an achievement and you should be extremely proud. Now you are about to face your greatest challenge yet: convincing your fellow literary lovers that they should read your book.

 It is a noisy world out there: the average person receives thousands of advertising and marketing messages every day. This can make it difficult to communicate that your book is out there and worth reading.

 How do you pique someone’s interest amongst all that noise and distraction? One excellent way to get the word out about your book is through a book review.

A review helps promote your book in numerous ways. First, it conveys to a reader that someone else has already read your book and was impacted by it enough to tell everyone else what they thought. Reviewers often highlight the strongest and catchiest parts of your writing, which can only serve to entice potential readers to read your story. Also, a review is a very real and tangible conversation between readers; one that often creates some buzz.

One thing to keep in mind is that book reviews have changed over the years. No longer confined to print outlets like newspapers and magazines, reviews can be found all over the Internet: on retailer sites such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble and on online newspapers such as the Huffington Post – there are even entire blog communities completely devoted to book reviews.

So how does an aspiring author get in touch with these outlets? Here are examples of great ways to reach out to these communities:

  • Create a presence on social media; Twitter and Facebook are great places to have an online presence and are perfect for starting conversations, announcing news and perhaps receiving a fan letter or two (or three)!
  • When publishing with WestBow Press, you will have the opportunity to promote your book through the book review program, BookSneeze is a site devoted strictly to book reviews and contains a large community of online reviewers that maintain their own blogs. Once you place your book on the site, bloggers can easily download it, read it and then review it on their blog.   With thousands of participants, much of the blogger outreach process is done for you; all you have to do is wait for the reviews to start showing up!
  • Last but not least, reach out to your family, friends, church, community, etc. The people that you know and trust can be the most powerful word-of-mouth network you can get as an author, and their reviews might be the most helpful.

Now that your book is finished, continue your hard work and get your book out there!  And remember: a review can be important link between you and your readers in this bustling book-reading world.


About Jolene Barto

Jolene has been able to see the publishing industry in all its varied sizes, from editing for a small university press to currently working for the world’s largest Christian publisher. Currently working as Communications Coordinator for Thomas Nelson, Jolene organizes social media campaigns and is a member of the BookSneeze team. She received her degree in Communications from Middle Tennessee State University and her MFA in Creative Writing at Murray State University.


Writing Tip and Prompt: Cut, Cut, Cut

On Fridays, we like to share writing tips and tricks with our readers. We hope this section will encourage and inspire you to continually improve as a writer.

Writing Tip – Cut, Cut, Cut

Writers often fall in love with their words and phrases. Cutting your work down can feel like you are removing your story’s heart. I assure you, it only feels like that. You are simply weeding the beds for a stronger, more beautiful flower. You should be ruthless in your writing and eliminate each unnecessary word. Compressed writing packs a powerful story.

Writing Prompt – Start with a Word

We all have a word that intrigues us. Maybe it’s the sound of saying it or the look of it on paper. Think of that word you have always wanted to use and just haven’t found the right moment. Take your word and create a sentence. Any sentence — one that proclaims a perfect example of its meaning or an obscure interpretation. From that sentence continue to write. Let’s see where a word can take you.

5 Steps to Success for National Novel Writing Month

You’ve probably known for a while that you want to write a book. Now, all you need to do is get the words onto the page. Of course, anyone who has ever sat down to write anything more than a grocery list knows that it’s rarely so simple.

But just as every thousand-mile journey must begin with a first step, every 50,000-word novel must begin with one single word. And that’s the great thing about National Novel Writing Month. Even if you’re not one of the “winners” who reaches the prose promised land of writing a 50,000-word manuscript between Nov. 1 and 30, you’ll still be on your way to completing your book.

By signing up at, you’re challenging yourself, holding yourself accountable and gaining access to a community of like-minded marathon writers.

So use this advice from a two-time NaNoWriMo participant; then go forth and make the most out of your November writing opportunities, NaNoWriMo or no.

  1. Be Accountable – One of the most important aspects of NaNoWriMo is the accountability factor. That’s why you should tell as many people as possible that you’ll be going for the 50,000-word goal in November. The more people you tell, the more help you’ll have during the challenge.
  2.  Seek Support – Take advantage of all the resources available through NaNoWriMo. In addition to receiving pep talks via Twitter, Facebook, email and more, you can use the site to connect with other writers in your community. These people can be your allies as you work through difficult passages or find yourself growing weary.
  3.  Prepare – Have an idea of who your characters will be and what they’ll be doing. Some people like to outline or have a rough three-act structure in mind; others storyboard. Do what works for you, but do it.
  4.  Focus – Figure out what time of the day and in what environment you write best. Then make a date with your writing desk every single day at that time (or two or three times a day if you work better in shorter spurts). 
  5.  Go with God – Should all else fail – the plot you started with begins to unravel; or you feel your focus slipping – come back to this: “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts.  Use them well to serve one another … Do it with all the strength and energy God supplies.  Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ.” – 1 Peter 4:10, 11

Whether or not you decide to join the hundreds of thousands of people all over the world participating in National Novel Writing Month this November, trust that you have what it takes to complete your book. Now go forth and write!

Getting Endorsements and Reviews

One of the top reasons readers purchase a particular book is the book’s endorsements and reviews. Yet many books don’t include a single endorsement on their cover or have a single review on the major online retailers’ sites.

Endorsements and reviews provide confirmation of the book’s quality and remove uncertainty from the transaction. Online reviews also serve as a point of comparison with other similar products and help the reader quickly make their selection from all the available options.

If you want your book to stand out, you must obtain endorsements and reviews. Of the two, reviews are easier to obtain due to the BookSneeze program we offer in partnership with Thomas Nelson. By posting 50 copies of your e-book on BookSneeze, it is available to thousands of bloggers who read and review books.

Your chances of developing word-of-mouth viral marketing increase with each review. Of course there is no guarantee that every review will be positive so the most important element is a good book that is well-edited and professionally designed.

On the other hand, obtaining endorsements can be difficult and time consuming — especially if you don’t use a proven process — but the increased credibility is well worth the effort. Following are four steps to streamline the process.

  1. Create a list of potential endorsers by brainstorming as many people as you can think of as quickly as possible. List both well-known individuals in the field of your book and other people you know personally who are influential in their circles of influence. Don’t worry whether or not you can get the person to endorse your book — just list everybody that comes to mind until you have at least 50 prospects identified.
  2. Obtain three endorsements from people you know well. These are your seed endorsements that you will leverage to obtain other endorsements. People who don’t know you well will be much more likely to consider endorsing your book if they see that others have already done so (see the “First Follower” video from Derek Silvers for an entertaining explanation of this phenomenon). They also are more likely if they know one of the endorsers so ask your first three endorsers for 10 people they know who might consider endorsing your book and add those people to your list.
  3. Ask for an endorsement from each person on your list. Send a brief letter with a sample of your manuscript, a short description, an example of the two- to three-sentence endorsement you are hoping for and a deadline in two weeks. In your letter, offer to send the entire manuscript. Follow up in one week with a phone call if possible.
  4. After you gather all your endorsements, provide them to your publisher to include in the book and on your marketing materials. When your book releases, send a signed copy to each endorser to thank them.

Writing Tip and Prompt: 10/19/2012

On Fridays we like to share writing tips and tricks with our readers. We hope this section will encourage and inspire you to continually improve as a writer.

Writing Tip – Write a Draft

While you write, remember that your manuscript is only finished when you decide it is. Don’t feel pressure to write perfectly the first or second time through a chapter; you’ll have time to revise once your draft is complete. When you don’t feel the pressure of perfection, your words may flow easier.

Writing Prompt – Overcoming Fear

 Write about the last time you were afraid. How did God help you gain control of your fear?

 If you feel comfortable sharing, comment below with an excerpt.

Catalyst Conference Atlanta 2012

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31

I attended my first Catalyst Conference last week in Atlanta and was blown away by the caliber of speakers and excitement of the young leaders attending.

Catalyst was conceived in 1999 by Andy Stanley, Reggie Joiner, John Maxwell, Lanny Donoho and many other young leaders.  Catalyst was created to focus on leaders under the age of 40, and it creates a dynamic attendee experience through high-profile speakers, praise and worship and a call to become the “change agent” in their local organizations, churches and communities. 

“We are made to make.”

Instead of merely consuming, we are called to “make” the world a better place and step up as leaders. The Catalyst conference in Atlanta provided a dynamic group of speakers to drive home that theme and energize up-and-coming church leaders. 

One of my personal favorites was hearing from Francis Chan, author of Multiply, Crazy Love, and Forgotten God.  Francis closed out day two with a passionate message reminding us that in order to successfully multiply, we must act more like Jesus. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul states: “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.”As God makes us the leaders that we are, we can’t be prepared to lead others if we do not serve as a proper example.

WestBow Press at Catalyst

WestBow Press was excited to represented 60 titles from our publishing list at the event.  We also were able to a free iPad to random attendee, so as you can imagine, there was a lot of interest around our booth.  I’m happy to announce that we drew the name of Dave McAuley of Johnson City, Tenn. on Tuesday, Oct. 9. He received his iPad this past week. “You have blessed me beyond any way I can adequately thank you,” says McAuley.  

Have you ever attended a Catalyst Conference? If so, how was that experience for you?


Announcing the 2012 Women of Faith Contest

Entry is open for the 2012 Women of Faith Writing Contest. Submit your previously unpublished manuscript for a chance to be published for free by WestBow Press with the possibility of being picked up for traditional publishing with Thomas Nelson, the largest Christian publisher in the world.

Submission is free. Register now and view the official contest rules for all of the details.

This year, WestBow Press and Women of Faith are celebrating our third official writing contest, and we’re so proud of the past winners.

In 2010, Marcia Moston won with her manuscript, Call of a Coward. After winning this contest, Moston’s title was acquired by Thomas Nelson.

And last year, Amy Sorrell’s winning title was quickly acquired by traditional publisher David C. Cook. Learn more about Sorrell’s journey:

This year’s winner could be you. The deadline for entry is Jan. 31, 2013. Learn more on our registration page.

Good luck, writers!

Writing Tip and Prompt: 10/12/2012

On Fridays we like to share writing tips and tricks with our readers. We hope this section will encourage and inspire you to continually improve as a writer.

Writing Tip – Play Around with Your Process

Type in large font so your words and sentences are bold before you. In the middle of a piece, start a new topic on a fresh sheet of paper to get that clean feeling. Take time when you are finished writing to examine your choice of words. Each of these will spice up your writing relationship and offer a clear direction for where your story is heading.

Writing Prompt – Focus on Your Surroundings

Look around you — at all of your surroundings. Focus in on an object, person, anything. Write one paragraph describing what you see in full detail and a second paragraph explaining the history of what you see.

Comment below with a sentence or two of your excercise.

Q&A with Amy Hauser, WestBow Press Author and Breast Cancer Survivor

In His Grip ... a Walk Through Breast CancerOctober is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and at WestBow Press, we are honored to have published a book by author and breast cancer survivor Amy Hauser. Amy was diagnosed with cancer in May of 2010, and she began blogging to share her health updates with friends and family. Last month, her book In His Grip … a Walk Through Breast Cancer, was published.

 We talked with Amy about her book and her new ministry, Horses.Healing.Hope.

 WBP: What was your immediate reaction upon finding out you had breast cancer?

AH: In the mammogram appointment, the doctors were very outwardly concerned. They sent me off with hugs and words of encouragement … needless to say, that is when I felt most concerned.  Feeling a bit blindsided by their reaction to what they saw, my next five days were full of anxious thoughts and fears of the worst-case scenario. My husband and I did lots of praying.

Once I received the call confirming my five-day nightmare, my first reaction was, “Okay, it is time to prepare for battle.  I know what we have to face now and it’s time to fight.”

WBP: Did you turn to God upon your diagnosis or did you go through a season of mourning?  Anger?  Fear?

 AH: My ability to lean on God was immediate.  While I turned to Him right from the start, I still had many moments of mourning. Anger and fear were also present in the beginning, but they certainly did not trump any of the good that God was showing me/us as we started down this path.

It took a lot of pain in my life and my marriage to get me to this point, but God finally got my attention! This is a big part of why I felt God needed me to share this journey. Cancer is really only one aspect of learning to remain in His grip, but it’s an important and large one. God taught me SO MUCH about myself: where I was lacking in trust and how I was seeing myself as a less-than-worthy child of the most amazing Father we could ever ask for.

Fear is an issue for cancer survivors and really comes into play for many AFTER treatments are over and the hair begins to grow back.  The doctors release you from their regular care, and fear begins to creep in. This is the “new normal” that has to be worked.  I have started a program that helps target this stage for breast cancer survivors.  It is called Horses.Healing.Hope. and it’s an equine assisted therapy program.  To learn more about this, visit our website.

 WBP: Is there a Bible verse that stuck with you throughout your fight when diagnosed with breast cancer?            

AH: Proverbs 3:5-6, Matthew 11:28-30, Psalm 46:10, Isaiah 40:31

All these come to mind without having to look them up.  They became daily, and sometimes hourly, breath prayers.

WBP: Why did you decide to publish your story?

AH: My story began when I was asked by family to consider setting up a blog on my health status.  I figured this would save time on the phone and having to retell everything over and over and it would keep me from getting tired of talking.  The blogging quickly became an outlet for sharing my heart. I would share my thoughts and before long, we keep hearing that the journaling was an inspiration for others. That was God.  

WBP: As a survivor of breast cancer, have you been able to discern lessons learned through your journey? 

 AH: God doesn’t give us cancer but He may allow such things as cancer, death, job loss, or anything we see as a trials.  What we do with these trials is up to us.  Are we going to see His plan for using these for good or let Satan have the final word? I learned to lean on Christ in a way I never thought possible.  The depth of God’s character that was revealed to me through this season of cancer was the best gift I could have ever received.

We need not let fear have the driver’s seat in our lives. God has a plan for each us and we are asked to boldly walk through what lies ahead and share what we find on the other side. If I can, so can you. The blessings will abound, even if the outcome isn’t exactly as you may originally perceive to be what is best.

WBP: What is the one thing that you want people to walk away with when they read your book?

AH: They are not alone in the midst of what might seem like a dark and lonely place. Fear can dominate when we suffer in solitude.  Light shines in when we share our struggles. 

WBP: What is the best piece of advice for someone living with a cancer diagnosis?

AH: Seek out the silver linings. Do not look back at any past struggles you may feel have been losses, only look this new challenge as a way God wants to show you HE is the way, the truth, and the light.

Writing Tip and Prompt: 10/5/2012

On Fridays we like to share writing tips and tricks with our readers. We hope this section will encourage and inspire you to continually improve as a writer.

Writing Tip – Avoid Dull Writing

Each of us works at writing on two levels: a creative, unconscious level and a critical, conscious level. The unconscious produces creative and powerful words and images. It makes surprising and original connections. And it shuts down if the critical “editor” of your thoughts goes to work too soon. Block out the voice of your old English teacher and save your editing for the end of your writing session.

Writing Prompt – Find Characters in Your Friends

We are inspired by those around us. Usually for a writer, some part of the story (no matter how predominate) is entangled in our own personal story — our own life. We tend to pull pieces from life, whether it is the accent of our favorite aunt or the physical traits of our best friend. We are inspired by what is familiar. So, think of five friends or family members and create a character profile for each. The fun part is, in the end you may mix and match each profile until you have created a character with depth that compliments your story.

Do We Look a Little Different?

As WestBow Press celebrates its 3rd anniversary, we are unveiling our newly designed website.  WestBow Press family and friends will recognize our continued tribute to our Scottish heritage and tradition however clean lines and organized content allows for a more modern and up to date look and feel. 

Updates include a visually refreshed homepage, easier navigation, streamlined publishing services page, refined WestBow Press logo and a new WordPress platform for our blog

Tell us what you think about our redesigned website.

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