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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Review: Publisher's Review Accelerator

Publisher's Review Accelerator is a new launch from writers and software developers Amy Harrop and Deborah Drum.

I have reviewed Debbbie and Amy's work on my blog before, most recently Book Trailer Treasure Map, their multimedia guide to creating video book trailers (still available here for under $10, incidentally). I've always found their products good value for money, and customer service first class.

Publisher's Review Accelerator is a tool enabling self-publishing authors and publishers to quickly find and contact potential reviewers on Amazon. It works on both Windows PC and Mac OS X (just take care to download the correct version!).

All authors know that getting reviews is crucial to a book or e-book's success. What PRA does is automate the process of finding reviewers via the Amazon website. It does this by performing an initial keyword search for a word or words relevant to your niche. Books in that niche are then listed, and you can choose any titles that have a decent number of reviews attached to them (this is shown on the search page).

For each such title, you can set the software to search for those reviewers who have included contact details (an email address or a website). You can then export any or all of these individuals' details to a spreadsheet, and contact them to see if they would be interested in a free copy of your book in exchange for a review.

That's it in a nutshell really, but here's a video produced by the authors showing PRA in action...


As ever, if you are receiving this post by email or RSS, you may need to visit my blog to watch the video.

Debbie and Amy were kind enough to allow me a review copy of Publisher's Review Accelerator, so here's what I thought about it...

First of all, the process of downloading and installing the software was very straightforward. You have to enter a licence key to activate the software, which is on the Thank You page after your payment has been processed. Once that is done, you are all set to start using the software.

I found Publisher's Review Accelerator pleasingly straightforward and intuitive to use. There is, however, a short video you should watch first, which sets out everything you need to know.

There is also a PDF file that walks you through using the software for the first time, with plenty of screengrabs to ensure that everything is crystal clear. With all this guidance, I can't imagine that many people will need to to contact the vendors' help desk (though this is available if required).

I tried using the software with a few different keywords, and it worked exactly as shown in the video above.

One thing I did notice is that only a minority of reviewers actually leave contact details - around 10 percent seems typical. This is one area where PRA really does save you a lot of time and effort that would otherwise be expended clicking through to a reviewer's profile page, establishing that they haven't left any contact details, and moving on to the next.

You can check out the personal profiles of all the reviewers who have left contact details and see what they say about themselves. If they sound like potential reviewers for your book, you can add them to a shortlist. This can then be exported as a CSV (comma separated values) file, which can be opened in a spreadsheet using a program such as Microsoft Excel. It's then down to you to contact these people personally and ask if they would like to review your book.

The authors do provide some help with this as well. You also get a fairly detailed (14-page) PDF on the subject of how to ask for book reviews. This covers approaching potential reviewers by email (message template included) and how to get your book to them electronically. There are various ways of doing this, all with their own pros and cons, and Debbie and Amy set out the main options. They also recommend quite a clever method which involves taking advantage of one aspect of listing your Kindle e-book on KDP Select.

Overall, I thought Publisher's Review Accelerator was a neat, well designed application that does exactly what it promises on the sales page. If you're a self-publisher, and especially if you have several titles, it can save you a lot of time and effort identifying potential reviewers.

My one slight reservation is that currently it only works with Amazon.com. Of course, if you live outside the States, there is still nothing to stop you contacting American reviewers. However, it might be nice if other Amazon stores were also included in future. I gather that buyers of PRA will receive updates to the software automatically (and free of charge), so hopefully this feature may be in the pipeline.

Finally, I should mention that Publisher's Review Accelerator is currently available at an introductory price of just $17 (around 11 UKP). However, Debbie tells me that the price will definitely be going up at the end of February, so if you want their best value deal it's well worth ordering now.

If you have any comments or questions about Publisher's Review Accelerator, please do leave them below!

UPDATE Monday 25 February: In my review above I said that my one reservation about Publisher's Review Accelerator was that it only allowed you to find reviewers on Amazon.com.

Well, Amy and Debbie must have been listening to me, because they are adding the ability to search Amazon UK and Amazon Canada as well. That really does double its value (at least) for non-US authors. Anyone who purchases the software now will get this upgrade free of charge as soon as it is available.

Publisher's Review Accelerator is still available at its low introductory price of $17, but I have heard from Debbie and Amy that the price is more than doubling to $37 on 1 March 2013. So if you think this software with its planned upgrade could assist you in your book marketing, now is definitely the time to snap it up!

UPDATE: Publisher's Review Accelerator has been withdrawn due to changes made by Amazon. However, Debbie has released a new, improved tool called Book Review Targeter, which does everything PRA did and a lot more besides. Click through this link for more information.


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