RIVALS Release Party!

BIG congrats to my crit partner, Jennifer Lane, on the release of her fabulous new sports romance, RIVALS. I lucked out major with scoring Jen as a crit partner because her stories are so, so fun to read. And obviously others agree with me - look at all the great reviews pouring in. I'm so excited that Rivals is now available for everyone to read. ❤️

Title: Rivals
Author: Jennifer Lane
Genre: Sports Romance
Release Date: March 19, 2021
Cover Design: Dan Irons, Designs by Irons

“I embrace my rival. But only to strangle him.”
~Jean Racine

After landing her dream job as head volleyball coach at Ohio State University, Lauren Chase’s career has become a nightmare. Her only hope of saving her job is to recruit a star player to her team. Too bad the player’s twin has signed a football scholarship for OSU’s chief rival, Michigan. And too bad Michigan coach, Jeremy Trent, sends sparks through Lauren every time they cross paths. But no way will she pursue an attraction to a man who represents the university she hates.

Jeremy detests his boss, and he hopes that signing the nation’s #1 recruit is the ticket he needs to become a head coach himself one day. Lauren Chase is already a head coach, and Jeremy has to admit that she intrigues the hell out of him. He wants to know why her performance has tanked after winning a national championship. He wants to see beneath Lauren’s fast pace and dirty mouth. But he can’t get with a Buckeye, right?

Maybe rivals don’t have to remain enemies. Maybe they can learn to appreciate their opponent’s strengths. And, if they’re lucky—if they excel at the game—maybe rivals can bring out the very best in each other.

Speaking of Goodreads, below is a snippet from my 5 STAR review of Rivals. Read the entire review.

"Absolutely loved this book. The rivalry was spot on. This book has it all, humor, love and sports." ~Michelle from Besties & Books
"The uncanny portrayal of recruiting high-profile athletes in Rivals completely transported me into the story. I became so invested in Lauren Chase's success! When Coach Chase met Coach Trent, the chance of finding love on the recruiting trail turned into such a charming contest--a game more meaningful than they could ever imagine on the court or field." ~Gwynn Harrison, Head Swim Coach, Bridgewater College
"Fun read that captures the best of the greatest sports rivalry in the midst of a smoldering romance."~Kevin Kropf

Psychologist/author (psycho author) Jennifer Lane invites you to her world of sports romance and romantic suspense with a psychological twist!

Jen fell in love with sports at a young age and competed in swimming and volleyball in college. She went on to become the Honda Award Winner for Division III Athlete of the Year. She still gets high from the smell of chlorine and the satisfaction of smashing a beautiful volleyball set.

Jen’s latest novel is Rivals, a romance between coaches from rival universities. Her Blocked trilogy also explores the transformation from hate to love. Particularly in this time of division, Jen’s favorite theme is finding common ground.

A romantic suspense trilogy (The Conduct Series) and a psychological thriller (Twin Sacrifice) complete Jen’s collection of stories. She calls Ohio home and shares writing space with her two trusted feline collaborators: Tuxedo and Tessa.

Whether writing or reading, Jen loves stories that make her laugh and cry. In her spare time, she likes to exercise and visit her amazing sisters in Chicago and Hilton Head.


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Getting Book Reviews #IWSG January 2021

Hi, guys! Happy 2021. We made it, right? After going MIA in December, I'm back to take part in the January IWSG. This month, I'll share my strategy for garnering the all-important book reviews. This one got kind of long, so I tried to lay it out for for easy skimming. 

As I said in my last post, I'm not an expert on book marketing, so this isn't exactly advice. I'm simply sharing what I've learned in case you might find a tidbit that helps in your publishing journey. (It also serves as a "note to self" for the next time I publish something.) 

Release Week Review Strategy

1) Submit ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) to Review Sites

The Goal: I did this in hopes of receiving early reviews from established review sites so I could pull blurbs from the reviews for release day promo on social networks, etc. 

  • Submitted to two review sites that had each favorably reviewed some of my previous books - Fresh Fiction and The Romance Reviews
  • I submitted to each more than 6 weeks ahead of release day.

The Result: Positive Review at Fresh Fiction. Nobody picked it up at The Romance Reviews

What I'll do differently next time: I'll contact more than two review sites ahead of release. 

2) Get ARCS Into Hands of Readers 

The Goal: Get at least 5 reviews posted at Amazon during release week. (As you see, all my goals are baby ones.)

  • Three months before release, I started offering free e-ARCs to my author email list and via LibraryThing giveaways (more on LibraryThing below). 
  • Once a reader expressed interest by either responding to my email or entering the giveaway, I sent out e-copies of the book and created a Review Team e-mail list. 
  • After e-books were distributed, I sent a thank you email to the Review Team list with links to where early reviews could be posted.  
  • Two weeks before release, I sent a reminder email.
  • On release day, I sent another email with links to post reviews on Amazon.
  • A month after release, I sent a final email to thank & remind those who hadn't reviewed yet to do so. The email included links to free copies of some of my other books.

LibraryThing is like Goodreads. Authors can set up an account, and once you do, you can give away up to 50 e-books with a request that recipients post a review after reading. Once you have an author account and are logged in, go here to see giveaways and set up your own (or got to More, scroll to Free Books, and click on Member Giveaways). The upside is that this is totally free. The downside is that you have to handle all the sending of books yourself. I ran a giveaway 3 months before release and another 2 months before release. Rather than automatically send a book to entrants, I sent an email asking them to respond with their preferred format - that way I was only sending out books to those who cared enough to actually respond to the email.

The Result: Of the 38 readers who requested an early copy, 11 rated/reviewed on Goodreads by release day, and 8 posted reviews at Amazon during release week. The moral of the story is that it's a LOT of work to achieve a 21% success rate - but we writers are used to that, eh?  

What I'll do differently next time: I'll incorporate BookSprout and Goodreads (see below) into my pre-release review strategy.

Getting Reviews & Ratings After Release

1) BookSprout ARC 

Take a look around the BookSprout site. You can give away up to 20 books for review for free or even more with a paid membership. It was so easy, and BookSprout handles distributing books, sending reminders, and showing results. The readership seems very conscientious about posting meaningful reviews. Highly recommend this service.

The Result: 10 copies claimed; 5 reviews posted (but only one posted at Amazon. Four posted at Goodreads, and three posted at BookBub). 

What I'll do differently next time: Get a BookSprout ARC giveaway in the works pre-release. I might also make an Amazon review a requirement - I only made it optional this time to encourage more reviewers, which might've been the right strategy. I'll have to think about it. 

2) Goodreads Invite

I set up a free e-book giveaway as an event and invited all of my Goodreads friends to the event. 

The Result: I have over 200 Goodreads friends, and only 2 of them took me up on the offer. But they both came through with reviews, so that's 2 reviews I wouldn't have if I hadn't asked. It was easy to do and totally free. 

What I'll do differently next time: Put the offer out pre-release.  

3) FREE Promotion    

My book is enrolled in the Amazon KDP program, so I made the book free on Amazon for 5 days and advertised the promotion in free e-book newsletters (more details coming in a future post where I'll compare free promotions versus 99 cent promotions). 

The Result: I ran the promo to boost visibility of the book on Amazon, but it had the unexpected result of increasing Amazon reviews and ratings (Amazon now allows readers to rate a book without having to leave a review - a very good thing as many readers are shy about writing reviews). A handful of reviews posted in the weeks following the giveaway as well as a bunch of ratings. The book currently has 63 Amazon ratings.  

What Hasn't Worked (for me)


It's the worst - at least for my genre and style of writing. I'd already learned this lesson, but when I became greedy for more reviews after Molly's release, I ignored my own advice and NetGalley reeled me in.

As most of you probably already know, NetGalley can be expensive for authors to join on their own. But NetGalley Co-Ops exist, and I was able to hop onto one for only $65 for a one month term.

My result for Molly after a month on NetGalley: A whopping 4 reviews (2 One Stars, 1 Two Stars & 1 Four Stars). Any review is appreciated, and I can take criticism, but compared to an average of 4.3 stars after 63 ratings on Amazon, I can objectively state that the NetGalley reviews are harshly skewed. It seems some romance reviewers at NetGalley use authors as their personal punching bags for working out their own life issues. The good news is that not one, but TWO of the NetGalley reviewers said the story made them want to hurl their Kindles. I always hope to evoke emotion in readers, so mission accomplished.  

Now, jut because NetGalley doesn't work for me, doesn't mean it won't work for you, especially if you write in a different genre. I have nothing but good things to say about Xpresso Book Tours, whose NetGalley co-op I joined and with whom I've previously booked a blog tour. Giselle is a dream to work with - efficient, professional & honest in setting expectations.

I would LOVE to know what Book Review Strategies have worked for you. Please tell me! 

This post is part of the:

Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. This wonderful group for writers was begun by the one and clonely Alex J. Cavannaugh.

This month's co-hosts are:

Ronel Janse van Vuuren 
J Lenni Dorner
Gwen Gardner
Sandra Cox
Louise - Fundy Blue!