February 2019

This month we celebrate Valentine’s Day (as well as President’s Day, Black History Month and other occasions).  According to Wikipedia, Valentine’s Day originated as a Western Christian feast day honoring one or two early saints named Valentinus.  Today it is recognized as a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and romantic love in many regions around the world, although it is not a public holiday in any country.  I want to wish my wonderful husband a Happy Valentine’s Day.

7 years ago this month, SkillBites was born.  We’ve come a long way since then.  Initially, SkillBites focused solely on helping entrepreneurs and professionals write short, practical how-to eBooks.  Then we expanded to print books, then any length book, then added memoirs and even a few children’s books and novels.  We also expanded our service offerings, including book coaching, ghostwriting, marketing and PR services; getting your book made into an audio book and getting your book and eBook on Amazon and all other major online book retail sites.  We created 2 virtual courses, on how to write a book and how to publish, promote and leverage a book.  Our aim is to make it as easy and convenient as possible for people to accomplish their goal of a becoming published author.  Let us know if we can help you in any way.

1. The SkillBites Show

Each month, we bring you an expert to help you get your book done, leverage your book, grow your business or improve your life.  The shows are recorded, so if you can’t listen to one live, you can listen to the recording by clicking here

Our next SkillBites Show will be held on Tuesday, February 19, at 12 pm ET.  Our guest will be Chris Spurvey, a serial entrepreneur who has built and sold businesses and now works with CEO’s, executive teams and sales leaders on the establishment, refinement, and execution ofsales strategies and processes that get results.  Chris is the author of the book It’s Time to Sell:  Cultivating the Sales Mind-Set, which Inc. Magazine called “one of the top 18 sales books of all time.”  Chris will be talking about the sales mindset in this month’s SkillBites Show.

To listen to the live presentation, you can call in at (641) 715-3660, Access Code: 467398

Last month we heard from yours truly.  I answered a number of frequently asked questions about book writing, publishing and book marketing.  If you missed this presentation, you can listen to it by clicking here, or you can read some of the answers to the FAQs from this show on the SkillBites blog at http://resources.skillbites.net/blog/.

Do you have expertise that you believe would benefit the SkillBites community of entrepreneurs and authors?  If you would like to be the guest on the monthly SkillBites Show, contact me at judy@skillbites.net or 610-783-4519.

2. Tip of the Month:  Amazon’s Revised Guidelines on Customer Reviews

Book reviews play an important role for authors in enabling them to sell books.  Books that have over 10 five-star reviews generally sell more than books that have few reviews.  As a book gets more sales, its rank improves, which leads to it being recommended by Amazon more, which leads to yet more sales.  It’s a great cycle to be in.

Getting book reviews is not that easy.  People promise to write a review, but then don’t do it.  A few years ago, I wrote an article that provided several tactics for getting book reviews.  If you’d like me to send that to you, let me know by emailing me at judy@skillbites.net.

Recently, Amazon changed its guidelines for reviews, resulting in its removal of some reviews and preventing some reviews from being posted.  In essence, the changes revolve around Amazon’s efforts to prevent fake reviews or “reviews for hire.”  While this is laudable, the mechanisms that Amazon is using to ferret out illegitimate reviews is also preventing proper reviews from being posted.

Here are some of the important changes in Amazon’s customer review policy:

  • Only customers who have bought the book on Amazon that they seek to review and have spent at least $50 on Amazon within the prior 12 months can post a review.  If Amazon cannot verify that the reviewer bought the book, it could disallow the posting of the review as “non-verified”.  Note, this is contrary to Amazon’s current community guidelines, and to a statement in the review guidelines:  “Book authors and publishers may continue to provide free or discounted copies of their books to readers, as long as the author or publisher does not require a review in exchange or attempt to influence the review.”  Hopefully the requirement that the reviewer buy the book on Amazon will be lifted soon.  
  • Authors cannot offer anything in exchange for a review.  The object here is to prevent authors from paying reviewers to leave good reviews.  One tactic that I used to recommend is to include an offer at the end of the book asking for reviews and offering to provide a free consultation or other small gift to any reader who emailed the author a copy of the review that the reader posted on Amazon.  While you can still ask for reviews from your readers, you can’t motivate them to do so by offering anything to them.
  • Family and close friends cannot review your book.  Amazon wants to make sure that the reviews are unbiased.  If a review comes from the author’s IP address, or from people connected to the author via social media, Amazon could refuse to post it.  It’s not clear how Amazon determines whether someone is a “close friend”.
  • If a reviewer’s book review was rejected by Amazon because it did not comply with the guidelines, the reviewer cannot try again by seeking to post a different review on the same book.
  • Book reviews cannot contain URLs other than to other products sold on Amazon.

For more information on Amazon’s customer review policies, visit http://www.amazon.com/review-guidelines.

3. Anniversary Gift

In commemoration of SkillBites’ 7th Anniversary, I am offering a 7% discount on any service offered by SkillBites through the end of February.  Just use the coupon code 7ANNIV[JW1]  at checkout.

4. Earn Commissions For Referrals

Do you know anyone who has been wanting to write a book but has been stalling?  Let them know that SkillBites offers a variety of services to make book writing and publishing easy, quick and convenient.  When you sign up to be a SkillBites affiliate, you can get a commission for each person who signs up to purchase SkillBites services through your unique referral link.  

Thanks for supporting SkillBites.  If there is anything you think we ought to be doing better or anything we should be doing that we’re not, please let us know.  We value your input.