BOOK LAUNCH LEARNINGS 9: Contests and Awards

PART 9 โ€“ LEARNINGS ABOUT WRITING AND PUBLISHING A BOOK SERIES โ€“ Contests and Awards

Apologies for the delay in publishing this blog entry. I have been at the beach for a couple weeks flexing some 3D artistic muscles while planning the next literary endeavour.

Fun in the sand aside, I had intended to write one last entry in this launch series about contests and awards. I’ve talked at length about how first-time authors need something to separate themselves from the pack. It is still crucial to get good reviews on all the major sites like Amazon and GoodReads, and some paid promotion is pretty important as well, but I’ve also put On Swift Wings into a number of contests.

Why Contests?

Contests are another way to identify and guarantee the legitimacy of your book. If you can get a reputable organization to award it some note of merit, your book immediately edges up a few notches in the to-read list of not-yet fans. I’ve come across a number of these, and I evaluated them based on what I could find online. Ultimately I entered a few of them and I’ve received some pretty good feedback (and a couple wins.)

Wins and Placements

The biggest win for On Swift Wings came in the ReaderViews Literary Awards. On Swift Wings won the best Western Canadian Fiction category as well as second place in the Humour/Satire category. That was a pretty cool win. It also reached the finals in the IndieReader discovery awards. In a couple weeks, I have one more contest drawing to a conclusion on September 1, but it would be pretty cool to pull another credit down to stick on the cover.

To that end, you’ll note that the updated cover has the awards and some 5-star seals affixed now. This is to help it be recognized and to stand out once more. I’m quite pleased with the new cover, as an aside, it is more representative of the book in general. And it is really cool to put a few commendations and awards on the cover to show off a bit.

Thick Skin

Not all contests will be winners. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you write, not everybody is going to love it. In my case, not everybody can even understand it. On Swift Wings was written in the unique style of Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. Swift is a very talented and well-known satirist, essayist, and novelist. I got feedback from the judge of one contest who absolutely hated the book. They didn’t understand the genre (essay), they didn’t understand the words, they hated the style, and they weren’t even familiar with Jonathan Swift or Gulliver’s Travels. That’s totally ok, if you’re putting anything artistic out there, it can be assured that not everybody will be your fan. It takes a thick skin to read some of the negative feedback to be sure, and contests are no different.

I’m really proud of the good words I’ve read about the book. Most of the negative stuff has either been things that I intentionally put into the book knowing that they wouldn’t be everybody’s cup of tea, or the feedback has been unhelpful trolling, which doesn’t bother me except for the diminished average rating.

Launch Summary

I feel like every day I learn something new about the entire process. It has been, and continues to be a pretty incredible ride. I hope that the blog posts I’ve written will prove valuable to you, whether as an author or as a reader interested in knowing more about the adventure.

Order now from Amazon.ca

If you haven’t yet, please give On Swift Wings a try. I’m very proud of it on a number of levels, and would love to hear what more people think. I’m working on a couple projects related to the book right now. I’ve still got “The Immortals” on the go, but it has taken a backseat while I’ve been working on a (not-so) secret project that I hope to be able to unveil and release in a few weeks. More to do, more to learn, more fun.

Thank you for reading my launch learnings, may your world always grow!

BW

BOOK LAUNCH LEARNINGS 8: Reviews

PART 8 โ€“ LEARNINGS ABOUT WRITING AND PUBLISHING A BOOK SERIES โ€“ Reviews

While the last blog I posted about marketing might have been the most informative and useful. This post is about something that is probably the most important for a first-time unknown author. Reviews. This post will be split between some thoughts bout reviews and a bit about the reviews that have so far been received about On Swift Wings.

I’ve talked about my naivete when it comes to launching my first book. I didn’t really take into account the importance of reviews until far into the process. I’ve said that I figured people would read the book, tell friends, and it would just take off on its own. Once I launched, I realized that people need to be encouraged to write reviews, even their friends. There are rules about close family posting reviews on sites like Amazon, so I didn’t want to risk their accounts and review abilities, but anybody else is free to post honest reviews. Also, though it is very tempting, I’m not going to risk everything to buy fake reviews. I’m not even sure where to go to get them, and I’m not looking.

On Swift Wings is still starving for reviews, any reviews. I have received a couple dozen in various places, several on Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, a few here and there on Goodreads, and a number of professional/semi-professional reviews from several legitimate sources. (I really need reviews! If you’ve read the book, please help me by posting a review to Amazon and/or GoodReads. The more people who comment (especially with 5-stars) the more people are likely to give it a try. A friend once told me that she wouldn’t buy a book without 100 reviews on Amazon with an average of 4-stars. I have 10, with an average of 4.6. So… just 90 more of you and I’m there! – this is an exceptionally high bar to achieve on Amazon. First-time authors almost never legitimately achieve that kind of review number, so she can only read mainstream published books.

Friends/Family/Advanced Reader Group

The first place to go for reviews should be your advance reader group. The only ARCs (advance reader copies) that I sent out were to my immediate family, who are ineligible to post reviews on Amazon… oops. Relax, sacrifice a little control, and give out copies to friends that can provide feedback and early reviews. It would also help to get involved in shared-interest groups. Find people with similar interests and connect with them. These are also more likely to provide reviews. These early reviews are crucial to achieving early traction.

Giveaways

Another way I tried to drum up reviews was through giveaways. I gave away 100 copies of On Swift Wings through a goodreads giveaway. I was hoping to get at least 10 reviews that way, I got 1 review and 2 ratings. There is a side-benefit of the goodreads giveaway, everybody who applies automatically has the book added to their ‘to-read’, so there are 303 people out there who have the book in their ‘to-read’ folder on goodreads. My guess is that a lot of people enter these giveaways pretty blindly and amass large quantities of free books they’ll never read. I’ll talk a little about giveaways and contests in my final blog post of this series.

Paid Reviews *** NOT PAID FOR RATING ***

The next place that I went for reviews was a number of paid reviewers. Note: These are paid for the time, placement and quality of the review, not for a positive review. You can pay hundreds of dollars for a professional reviewer to read your book and say its horrible. Fortunately, all my reviews came back with 75% or better stars. I approached a few organizations to find me some reviewers, either professional, or just people looking for new books:

OnlineBookClub.org – Arite Seki – 4/4 Stars
OnlineBookClub.org – Snowflake – 3/4 Stars

Reader Views – Paige Lovitt – 5/5 Stars

Readers’ Favorite – Romuald Dzemo – 5/5 Stars
Readers’ Favorite – Liz Konkel – 5/5 Stars
Readers’ Favorite – K.C. Finn – 5/5 Stars
Readers’ Favorite – Ruffina Oserio – 5/5 Stars
Readers’ Favorite – Lesley Jones – 5/5 Stars
Readers’ Favorite – Rabia Tanveer – 4/5 Stars

There are a number of other options that I haven’t explored deeply including Author to Author, where you review a book from a pool of curated works and authors from that pool review yours. It is all blind, so you aren’t reviewing the person who reviewed you, but it is a way to gather more reviews.

Something I hadn’t thought about, but will also do in the future, is to include a note at the end of the book asking for a review. It felt tacky the first time I heard about it, but now I recognize that many people don’t do things like review a book without being asked. Whether they don’t think about it, or they forget. You get a lot more of what you want in life by asking for it, so next time, I’ll ask for it. Also…

Please review On Swift Wings!

(You might notice that the more stars you give, the prettier your review. ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

Coles North Hill – Sadly Closed
Order now from Amazon.ca

Anyway, thank you for reading my blog. I hope that some of the things I have written will be of some value to you. If you feel inclined, I would be thrilled if you gave On Swift Wings a try. It is available all over the place, if you are a fan of your local bookstore, they are able to order it from IngramSpark, it is stocked at a few Coles/Chapters locations, although sadly my local outlet has closed permanently due to the pandemic. Of course the book can be ordered from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indigo, and many other sources. A kindle and eBook version are also available.

As always, I’d love to hear back from you. Tell me what you think.

2019-2020 Literary Award Finalist

On Swift Wings has been named a finalist for the 2019-2020 Literary Awards from ReaderViews.com! There are quite a few categories, but On Swift Wings was nominated for best General Fiction/Novel, and best Fiction – Canada West Region.

A list of the finalists is available here: https://www.readerviews.com/2019-2020-literary-awards-finalists

If you haven’t had a chance yet, check out the book here, the Kindle version is only a few dollars on Amazon.

Winners will be announced next week on March 23rd.

On Swift Wings is also nominated in onlinebookclub.org’s 2020 Book of the Year. This is a popular contest, so I need your help! Vote for On Swift Wings today! https://forums.onlinebookclub.org/shelves/book.php?id=415208&boty=1

Thank you to everybody who has voted so far, currently 3rd place and only four votes from second!

https://forums.onlinebookclub.org/shelves/boty-leaderboard.php

May your world always grow!

BW

Awards Season

Vote for On Swift Wings – Book of the Year

Online Book Club Homepage

A new contest has just begun and On Swift Wings is nominated for Book of the Year from OnlineBookClub. This is a voted award, so I need your help! Please go here: https://forums.onlinebookclub.org/shelves/book.php?id=415208&boty=1 and vote for On Swift Wings!


A second opportunity is from ReaderViews and it is finishing soon!

ReaderViews provided me with this fantastic 5-star review in January: https://www.readerviews.com/reviewwiensonswiftwings and interviewed me: https://www.readerviews.com/interviewwiensonswiftwings

On Swift Wings has been nominated for a pair of awards. Best General Fiction/Novel and Best Fiction – Canada West. I’m anxious to find out if On Swift Wings is announced a finalist next week, that would be very exciting indeed!

Nothing for you to do on this one but cross your fingers and hope. This is a judged contest.


Buy the Book

Of course, you can always grab a copy of the book yourself and submit your own review… please. (The Kindle version, which can be read on any phone, is only $2.99 Canadian.) – you can read a sample of the book right here without even having to change pages!


Immortal Update

I’ve decided to change the voice once again for the second book. I had been trying to write in the third person but was finding it slow, tedious, and an unnatural style for me. Instead, the new style will be first person, but from the perspective of three distinct characters. It should be a challenging style to write, but one that provides more flexibility and an especially creative dynamic. While I will have to rewrite the first three chapters that are already complete, I expect that the result will be a better, more interesting read than would have otherwise been the case.

May your world always grow!

BW

First Full Review

On Swift Wings is being featured this week by Book by Book Publicity at readerviews.com. This is the first formal review by somebody who doesn’t know me and it is awesome. Scarcely can I contain my excitement. If you’ve been considering reading the book, hopefully this will put you over the edge.

I’m thrilled with the review. Check it out here: reviewwiensonswiftwings.

A few highlights:

The author does an exceptional job of rewriting the political satire through the eyes of Cygnus, a man who finds himself following in similar steps of Gulliver.

Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (12/19)

His journey makes for a compelling read.

Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (12/19)

I think that โ€œOn Swift Wings: The Travails of Cygnus,โ€ by Brett M. Wiens would be a great selection for readersโ€™ groups and even required reading for a class. Interesting discussions are guaranteed to follow. I look forward to reading future works by this talented author.

Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (12/19)

Reader Views has also asked for an interview that will be posted sometime this week, and will be featured in their newsletter on Monday, January 6, 2020.

Thank you Paige Lovitt and Reader Views!

(Next Week I’m going to post a 2019 year in review along with some pictures of people holding the book. If you’d like to be included, let me know here or send me a picture with On Swift Wings by email or Facebook at BW.Literature

Thanks for reading! May your world always grow.