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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Shawn's New Policy on Review Copies

I’m changing the way I distribute promotional and review copies.

As of right now, I’m no longer being generous about offering free copies to book clubs, vendors, or Black bookstores like I used to be. Starting with The Temptation of John Haynes I’m only sending out a handful of review copies to a select group of book clubs. A very select few. Like the two clubs who actually wrote reviews for All About Marilyn.

I started scaling back sending out review and promotional copies last year after giving away close to 40 copies of The Cassandra Cookbook in 2008. For the All About Marilyn promotion, I only gave away eight review copies. A promotional copy was given to the Hue-Man bookstore in Harlem and one book vendor Uptown (Everyone else wasn't there that morning). I also sent the book to two popular book review sites (RAWSISTAZ, Apex Reviews) who say they review everything in January of this year.  According to the postal Service's Delivery Confirmation records they got their books way back in early February.  However, almost a year has passed an no review has been written for Marilyn yet at either site. However several recent Street Lit books, books by celebrities, and other self-published titles have had reviews of their books posted.

In the wake of the incident, I’m further reducing the number of free review copies going out even lower than the eight sent out last year. Printing these books, buying envelopes, and paying for postage to ship them costs me money and I don’t have it to throw away on people who request books for review, don’t read them, don’t write reviews for them and throw them away.
With reviews having no impact on sales (Both Cassandra and Marilyn have glowing reviews, but not huge sales from them) I’m going to try some other promotional methods like business cards and club flyers to get the word out about The Temptation of John Haynes. And from here on in I’m no longer sending personalized e-mails to black book clubs telling them about my books. Instead, I’ll be using my blog, and social media like Facebook and twitter to promote my titles.

Any other Black book clubs who want to read my books can head over to and buy them. Vendors who want them for their tables can head over to Ingram and order them with the ISBN. In both those outlets they’re available at discounted prices. Perhaps if brothers and sisters have to pay for their own books they’ll think twice about throwing them in the trash.


  1. Shawn, thank you for the information on what has transpired. It helps other writers watch out for pitfalls and problems with marketing and promoting. Your experiences are invaluable, so thank you for being willing to share!

  2. Always glad to help Savannah. I want other writers to learn from my experiences and avoid the pitfalls I've run into. Publishing is a rough road and everyone has to be prepared to deal with the bumps.

  3. Shawn, I can only give the old southern remark of Bless Your Heart. This info is priceless to me as a veteran author always seeking to expand. I keep telling you you need to do a book on practices and pitfalls of self-publishing. As you know all too well, this is the new wave of publishing.

    Many thanks again and keep sharing.

  4. Francine, I'd love to do a book on self-publishing (If I did it would include LOADS OF PIX!) but I can reach more readers with the blog. Almost on my second month of 1k plus hits here vs. Anemic sales of my books. I really oughta switch to non-fiction writing.

  5. Shawn, perhaps your traffic would translate into book sales if you included excerpts of your books rather than the covers followed with BUY NOW links. Not to mention that your blog does not exactly showcase your writing style. I can say, based on the provocative topics, your traffic is mostly increasing because people like to read rants and debates. That doesn't really attract readers who like to visit author blogs to gain insight into a writers' inspiration and writing style, rather than being preached at. Step outside of your frustrations and start blogging about your books, network with other writers, do a blog tour, feature guest blogs, etc. Just shake it up a bit.

  6. Gigi, Excerpts from each of my books (with the Exception of the Marilyn Screenplay are featured on the links side. But I hear what you're saying. Maybe I ought to link the chapters to the covers.

  7. Gigi, Excerpts from each of my books (with the Exception of the Marilyn Screenplay are featured on the links side. I'll be posting sample chapters of my new book The Temptation of John Haynes up as soon as the book is released on Amazon. I usually post three chapters to whet readers apetities. (don't know if I spelled that right, It' is past midnight)

    But I hear what you're saying. Maybe I ought to link the sample chapters to the covers.