Resolutions – What Are Your Resolutions??

It is that time of year again 🙂

These are some of the things I’d like to focus on and accomplish in 2009 —

1 – Finish final editing for Book Promo 201 — currently with my publisher for layout
2 – Finish and start to promote – ebook about utilizing Amazon more completely
3 – Finish and start to promote – ebook about selling books on Ebay
4 – Continue to promote my virtual tour and Web 2.0 promotional business
5 – Write the second book in my Cape Hatteras mystery series
6 – Compile class lessons and begin to promote and teach promotional classes based on my two author promotion books
7 – Find time to go to the beach for at least a week 🙂
8 – After my next mystery is complete – write my next historic suspense or a contemporary suspense
9 – Possibly write a restaurant promotional book that I have in mind

10 – And, of course, I want to lose weight, but the other things are more possible 🙂

My biggest personal hope for 2009 is to be able to have some time for myself in the next year – the 80+ hour work weeks need to go 🙂

Nikki Leigh

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Win A FREE Copy of How Obama Won

You are invited to enter a drawing for a free print copy of How Obama Won by Earl Ofari Hutchinson. Simply go to and become a “fan” to be entered in the drawing. If you are interested in sharing information about this exciting new book with your site visitors, contact us for more details –

Nikki Leigh

Earl Ofari Hutchinson Interviews Jesse Jackson Live on Wednesday 5-6 pm PST

Listen Live on Wednesday December 31st from 5-6 pm PST while Earl Ofari Hutchinson interviews Jesse Jackson Sr. Jesse Jackson Sr. speaks out on what civil rights leaders should ask and expect from President-elect Barack Obama. Jackson talks with KPFK-Pacifica’s The Hutchinson Report host Earl Ofari Hutchinson.

More online shoppers take the word of anonymous product reviewers

As authors we face reviews on Amazon and other book buying sites. Do consumers believe anonymous reviews? Do they make purchasing decisions based on reviews? Do you make decisions based on reviews? I guess another part of the question is, how useful or harmful are these online reviews?

Nikki Leigh

More online shoppers take the word of anonymous product reviewers


As online shopping grows more popular, consumers are increasingly relying on the opinions of people they’ve never met.

These opinions, offered by names such as “Anonymous,” or “Skater” or “Crazy Cat Lady,” cover all kinds of products, no matter how expensive, cheap, big or small. (Twelve people have reviewed a lint roller refill on

In the Internet’s ever-growing social community, people trust one another more than advertisers. And retailers are increasingly figuring that out. Businesses are incorporating customer reviews into their marketing campaigns, providing links to top-ranked products and in some cases, flirting with the idea of making the reviews accessible via cell phone in brick-and-mortar stores.

“Online reviews have changed everything. It sounds so perfect. Anyone and everyone can share their experience with a product or service,” said Michal Ann Strahilevitz, marketing professor at Golden Gate University in San Francisco. “It is as if all online shoppers have an instant community of friends, recommending the good and warning about the bad.”

But the system isn’t perfect, she said. Some people rate everything they try; others never rate anything. Also, merchants and competitors can disguise ulterior motives behind fake names.

“Generally, the greater the number of reviews, the more likely the average is to be accurate. Comments also help. If extensive comments are made, and the writing style varies, that is a good sign,” Strahilevitz said.

The next frontier in user reviews will come as luxury retailers adopt them and as ratings systems become more elaborate, experts say.

Seattle-based, a pioneer that allowed reviews when it launched in 1995, lets users rank each other for credibility. The company also uses tags to distinguish top reviewers and people who use their real names.

“When we first did it, we got letters from publishers saying, ‘Maybe you don’t understand your business. You make money when you sell things,’ ” Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos told BusinessWeek four years ago. “Our point of view is, no, we make money when we help customers make purchase decisions.”

This holiday season, Amazon assembled a team of six real customers to give advice on goods and dubbed them the “tell-it-like-it-is consumer advocates.” The reviewers received free products as part of Amazon Vine, a company program that gives products to select Amazon customers in return for their opinions.

Increasingly, retailers are realizing what Amazon knew early on: When consumers make smart decisions, retailers benefit, said Patti Freeman Evans, a vice president and research director for Forrester Research.

“Consumers who actually read these reviews and find them valuable are more likely to be more loyal to that store, shop more frequently with that store and are less likely to return the item,” Evans said.

All retailers aren’t necessarily comfortable with negative reviews, but they are learning to get over it.

“What they’ve found is there’s a lot of value in that negative review,” Evans said. “Wouldn’t you as a retailer want to know if there’s a problem with the product?”

David Lonczak, chief marketing officer of Bellevue-based Inc., said reviews have helped his company to better communicate with suppliers. In one case, a manufacturer added an inner seal to a product because reviewers complained about leaks, he said.

“The user-generated content, whether written or video or otherwise, has become more and more dispersed and more and more available and it has started to prove to be quite valuable,” Lonczak said. “Shoppers are looking for, ‘What is real, what can I believe? I can’t touch the product or feel it or smell it, how can I be sure what is right for me?’ “, which has a sister site,, has allowed user reviews since 2003. Since they upgraded their system earlier this year by partnering with PowerReviews, daily input is up 250 percent, Lonczak said. sends e-mail reminders to customers, asking them to submit reviews. The site labels reviewers who have bought products as a “verified buyer.”

“We know that customers are depending upon their peers to help them figure out what works and what doesn’t work,” Lonczak said. But, “we don’t want the ability of anybody to come to the site and write a review, or a manufacturer dissing another manufacturer’s product.”

San Francisco-based PowerReviews helps Web sites with their online customer review platform in exchange for the right to put those reviews on Its clientele has reached 550 and is growing.

PowerReviews co-founder and CEO Andy Chen says the turning point came three years ago when even brick-and-mortar retailers began to realize that a bad review isn’t the end of the world.

The most frequent question that company executives still ask him is, “What do I do with negative reviews?” He tells them that negative reviews add credibility.

If a company deletes a negative review, the consumer who wrote it will notice and get a bad impression. Also, four-star rated products sell better than five-star ones, Chen said he’s found by studying data sets provided by clients.

“If they see no one who’s unhappy, they immediately think they can’t trust the entire set of reviews,” Chen said.

PowerReviews moderates reviews and deletes less than 4 percent, Chen said. The goal is to encourage constructive debate, not verify accuracy.

Thus, if someone loves a product but hates the customer service, that review is deleted because it’s not about the product. Or, if someone posts where to find the same product cheaper elsewhere, it is deleted, Chen said.

Other than that, the reviews stay.

“We love misspellings because misspellings mean it’s a real person that wrote it, not a marketer,” Chen said. “You wouldn’t believe how many ways people spell comfortable. … Grammar mistakes, funny punctuation, misspellings, typos — that’s how people speak.”

Profanity and hate speech are not allowed, he added.

Multibranded retailers, such as REI, have learned that bad reviews do not drive away sales but shift them to a similar product on the site, said Chen, whose company works with Seattle-based Recreational Equipment Inc.

Despite widespread adoption, anonymous reviews still draw criticism, especially from bad review victims. At its worst, anonymity encourages vicious lying. But at its best, it is self-correcting and frees people to be honest.

Former New York Times book critic Richard Bernstein wrote a letter to Bezos to tell him that Amazon’s reader review system encourages cowardice.

“It’s the anonymity that Amazon grants to its reader-reviewers that I objected to, on the grounds that anybody who wants to say something nasty about somebody else’s work ought to have the little bit of bravery needed to say it under his or her name,” Bernstein said in an August letter that ran in the International Herald Tribune.

Indianapolis-based Angie’s List, which compiles user reviews on contractors, service companies and health care providers, does not allow anonymous reviews. Consumers pay a membership fee to join.

“We work really hard to not let folks game our system,” spokeswoman Cheryl Reed said. “We think it’s a distinction that makes a huge difference. … Companies can’t put themselves on the list, nor can they report on themselves. We do allow them — free of charge — to respond to reports, though, and we display the responses next to the report in question.”

But anonymous review are the norm, and seem here to stay.

Four-year-old, based in San Francisco, boasts about 4 million reviews of restaurants, bars and businesses that draws about 15 million visitors a month. Yelp even lets people rate itself. “You suck … but I still love you,” one wrote.

Seattle-based has embraced user reviews. For CEO Dan Gerler, a shoe industry veteran, the reason is simple: He relies on the reviews himself. “Consumers have the greatest faith in other consumers.”

P-I reporter Andrea James can be reached at 206-448-8124 or Read more about online retail at

Promotional Interview with Lisa Burke

Your Name:

Lisa Burke

1. Where you are from and where are you now?

Connecticut and Connecticut, respectively.

2. How did you get started writing?

I’m not quite sure how it happened really. My father is a writer, and my parents are both avid readers, so I think their influence preceeded any conscious decision I made to express myself via pen. I think when I was young, I put a few things on paper and thought it resonated more than a lot of other things I’d read and went on from there.

3. What do you do when you are not writing?

I’m mentally hyper and physically lazy. I enjoy hedonistic pleasures like sleeping, eating, internet and love, but when I am able to motivate myself I enjoy spending time with animals, jogging, yoga and exploring buddhism.

4. What would readers like to know about you?

I would like readers to know that my book may writing might be a little different than what they’re going to get on the shelves of Borders. That, of course, can be a good or a bad thing, but I hear the theme in this country is “change”, so I’m jumping on that bandwagon too.

5. What inspired your first book?

My divorce. Somehow I had to work out the trauma and the only control I had was through my characters.

6. How many books have you written?

Just one!

7. What are the titles of your books and what genres are they?

The Invisible Visitor – General Fiction

8. How do you decide on that topic or genre? Why are you specially qualified to write about this topic?

A good portion of my book is about a young woman’s neurosis and guilt. I’ve lived it, so I’ll let that be my qualification!

9. How do you manage to keep yourself focused and on track when you’re writing a book?

Although I am notorious for starting things and not finishing them, since my husband left me two years ago, this novel was my only purpose in life. If I abandoned it I would be abandoning myself. Now, writing is what gives me a good part of my identity. After being in an unfulfilling job for ten years, I welcome a purpose in life and would never betray it.

10. Do you write to make money, for the love of writing or both?

For the love of writing. What artist does it for the money? If they do, I imagine they made a poor vocational choice!

11. What are some traditional methods of marketing you have used? Which were the
most successful?

I have promotional postcards, a website and promotional bookmarks. As my novel is not in print at the moment, I will also venture to do some book signings, hopefully a blog tour, and maybe interviews with local papers. It’s too soon to say which one will work best!

12. What are some unique methods of marketing you have used? Which were the most successful?

I’ve thought about donating copies of my book to prisons.

13. Do you sell through a website? If so, what’s the address? If not, why not?

I have a website, which contains a link to where my book can be purchased.

14. Where can people order your books? and soon

15. What format are your books – e-book, print, audio etc?

There is an e-book and print option to purchase.

16. Will you write more books?

Yes, hopefully!

17. What do you have in the works now?

I have been bobbing a novel in my head for a while now about jealousy and how it destroys people, but I can’t seem to work the characters out. I know that they are currently not likeable, and won’t hold a reader’s attention. I think this is because my own jealousy makes me into a wretched wench, and the object of my desires is mutated into a demon when he is translated into print. I also have a few articles in mind, one called “A Virgin in Pornography” which would journal my experiences into viewing pornography, which I find morally repugnant. Hopefully there would be a moral at the end. I’m a little afraid of that one though.

18. What does the future hold for you and your books?

Um, great things of course!

19. What was the most successful thing you did to promote your books?

Tell my friends! I’m an extremely private person, so this was actually a big step for me.

20. What was the least successful thing you did to promote your books?

So far, no one is reading my blog that I can see.

21. Tell us about your most recent book.

A lonely woman in her early thirties, Nora Maloney believes she is responsible for the mysterious teenaged death of her childhood love, Stuart. She can no longer handle the guilt and knows that the only way out is to overdose on pills.

Too bad things don’t work out as she planned. Instead of winding up dead, she wakes up to a crass but thoughtful, eccentric but witty guardian angel named Cassock, who tries various tough love tactics to open her eyes to the possibility of happiness that lay before her. This unlikely angel tests Nora’s character by frightening her with terrible visions and experiences, but in the good name of regeneration.

22. What makes this book special to you?

The Invisible Visitor is semi-autobiographical. It is a tale of hope and forgiveness. It got me through such a terrible time, and I am forever greatful to it. If I don’t sell copy one, it has still made me rich with hope for the future.

23. What sort of comments have you gotten about the content of the book?

I have been told it is witty and the dialogue is compelling.

24. What makes this a book that other people MUST read and WHY?

Again, it’s different. You’ll cross metaphysical boundaries and swoon at the turn of a phrase.

25. What people NEED to read this book and WHY?

Much of modern fiction is not in tune for independent, artistic 20-35 year olds. I feel my work fills a niche, but very present, market.

26. What sparks your creativity? Any tips to help others spark their own

I like to read others’ work, just a phrase or title, that sounds really brilliant, and then move forward with it as if it was my own. Complete the story, change the title to something original or scrap the phrase, and I’m all set. I also like random word generators. Also, red wine fueled most of The Invisible Visitor. I kept a goal of 1,500 words per day and almost always met it. However, everyone has their own ways that work for them.

27. What do you think motivates people to become authors? What motivated you to get into this unusual industry?

As I’ve alluded to before, I think a power complex makes people want to write fiction. That, or those who just feel out of control in their own lives, or are simply uber-creative. You can create new worlds with your own hands, nix boundaries and societal obligations and rules. What on Earth is better than that? Aside from being a parent or surgeon, this is as close to being God as you can get.

28. Tell me about the most unusual things you have done to promote any books?

Nothing unusual as of yet! I was thinking about taking out a local television ad, but I think I’m too shy.

29. If a potential reader thinks that your book wouldn’t interest them, what would you say to convince them to buy? I’m thinking something better than “Its the greatest book ever.” Give me something more specific 🙂

This book will give you a new perspective on something. It may be a new look at guilt, a new look at the meaning of life, or new sympathy for very messed up people. Regardless of your outlook, this novel is guaranteed to change your thinking one way or the other.

30. Why does the topic of your book interest you? Why would it interest potential readers? Give us a hook to reel in new readers.

I am always interested in finding my purpose and working through current fears and make something constructive out of my life. This book shows how one woman could rise from the ashes of a childhood tragedy and regain her faith in humankind, and more importantly, herself.

This interview was done in conjunction with Nikki Leigh, author of the Book Promo 101 series and owner of Promo 101 Virtual Blog Tours. For more information, visit – and

Kindred Spirits by Marilyn Meredith

1 – How did you get interested in the topic that’s featured in your book?

In Kindred Spirits, the latest in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, Tempe visits Crescent City where she becomes friends with a murder victim’s sister and a good friend. Both these women are Tolowa.

I made a visit to Crescent City several years ago where I met a fascinating Tolowa woman who told me a lot about the Tolowa people’s history and their legends. I’d never heard of the Tolowa before. What I learned is the entire Tolowa nation was nearly wiped out through vicious attacks on the men, women and children. Though information about the Tolowa is not the main thrust of the story, much is added as flavor.

2 – Tell us a bit about your background. What have you done in the past that relates to your book and that topic?

Primarily, I am a writer. This is the eighth book in the series and my heroine, Tempe Crabtree, is a Yanduchi, part of the Tule River Indians. The more I’ve written about her, the more I’ve learned about the Native Americans who live on the Tule River Reservation near me–and I’ve renamed the Bear Creek Indian Reservation in my books.

As a writer, I’ve been invited to speak to the local college’s anthropology class and I’ve gone on a field trip with this class to places on the reservation that aren’t known to the general public. One thing I always remind everyone is, I borrow a lot from our local native people and the reservation, but primarily, I’m writing fiction.

I’ve done a lot of research about our local Indians and I have tremendous respect for their spirit and determination despite the hardships and prejudice they’ve been subjected to through the years. And I’m excited about their generosity to the community now that their casino and other businesses have become successful.

3 – What advise would you give to someone who is interested in your topic?

Anyone who writers about Native Americans needs to be respectful and do enough research to present an honest picture.

4 – What do you see as the benefit to participating in groups and organizations? My first thought would be networking opportunities and the chance for personal and business growth. What are your reasons?

I belong to many groups and organizations. I am a member and serve on the board of the Public Safety Writers Association and have gained much knowledge about law enforcement and the people who have chosen this profession because of this membership. I have several fans of both my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series and my Rocky Bluff P.D. series in this group.

I am a member of four chapters of Sisters in Crime, my local San Joaquin chapter, Central Coast chapter, the L.A. chapter, and the Internet chapter–of which I’m the president. I’m also a member of Mystery Writers of America, Epic, and Writers of Kern. All of these organizations have listserves which offer a lot of ongoing helpful information. Of course there are all kinds of networking and promotional opportunities. I also attend various conventions and conferences sponsored by these groups. I’ve made life-long friends with members of all these organizations.

5 – Who is the ideal person to read your book? If each person that reads this was going to recommend your book to one person, what sort of person would they want to choose?

First, the ideal person to read Kindred Spirits should be someone who loves mysteries and especially mysteries with a Native American flavor. If someone is looking for a fast moving story with plenty of excitement, they should like my books.

6 – What do you think ignites a person’s creativity?

For an author, it could be almost anything. Meeting Junie Mattice and listening to her stories about the Tolowa people living in and around Crescent City certainly ignited my imagination and I wanted to find a way for Tempe to visit Crescent City and mingle with some Tolowa women with the same sort of dynamic personality as Junie’

7 – What have you found to be the biggest stumbling block for people who want to start writing?

Too many people I run into who want to write will tell you the whole story of what they want to write and have yet to put down a single word. Also, a person who wants to write needs to be a reader–reading the kind of books he or she wants to write.

8 – How would you suggest they can overcome that?

The reading part is easy, go to the library and check out the kind of books similar to what they want to write and read, read, read. Pay attention to how the story is constructed, what makes a chapter, how the dialogue moves the story along, how the writing is balanced between action, dialogue and narrative. Take notes. Go to a writers conference. Take notes. Start writing. Write, write, write. When you’re done, rewrite.

9 – What do you find is the biggest motivator for people to succeed? Is it money, security, desire for fame or something else?

I don’t know about others, but I do know if money was my primary motivator I would have given up long ago. My primary motivator is finding out what my heroine is going to do next. I have to write–I can’t imagine life without writing.

10 – Who is the “perfect” person to read your book?

Anyone who likes a good mystery and wants to be entertained.

11 – Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

I’d like to thank you for doing this, Nikki, for all of us authors. Marilyn

New Posts on My Promotional Blogs

I have quite a few promotional blogs where I created interviews for authors to help them promote their books. The full list is at If you would like to use these to promote any of your books – feel free to read this post for a full list of the links and for instructions.

This week I posted the following interviews and chapters — enjoy 🙂

I’m starting to run out of interviews to post — hint, hint 🙂

Nikki Leigh

How Do You Think Obama Won?

There are many theories from the media, the pundits, blogger and regular people about How Obama Won. Would you like to share your thoughts? Feel free to post your comments here and tell us what you think made the difference. What helped Obama win?

Nikki Leigh

PS – Are you on the waiting list to be notified when How Obama Won arrives? Are you interested in signing up for our affiliate program? Complete information is posted in the right hand column of the blog at

Getting So Much Done

Just had to drop in for a minute to let you know what I’ve been doing 🙂 I’m getting so many things done that I wanted to do – but couldn’t find the time.

I have a blog that was created just to promote my novel – Lilah and the Locket ( and it generates hits on my website every month. But I wanted a blog where I could blog about the next book in the series – you’re welcome to take a look and get a sneak peak at my next novel –

I also have wanted to move the author promotional interviews to a new blog and since I learned how to export and import blog content on Blogger — its very easy and quick — that gave me the perfect tool to move those interviews –

Then, I’ve noticed that there will be many things that I want to add to Book Promo 201 – but that would hold up the release of the book forever – so what about creating a blog where I can post new things as I discover them. The blog will be a great follow up resource for people who buy either of my books and could entice people to buy the books in the future 🙂 This blog will contain my promotional articles, some announcements and follow up promotional tips and articles —

Next – I need a blog to promote the Misty Cove Series — will keep you posted about that one.

Nikki Leigh

Struggling in Tough Economic Times? You Need to Attend This Call

Monday December 22

Mark Tewart visits with Nikki Leigh today on Promo 101 Create and Promote – Call-in Number: (347) 215-8201 – 3 pm EST. They will discuss Mark’s background, his book, sales tips and much more. We welcome your questions. Are you struggling in this economy? Do you need to hone your business and/or sales skills? You should listen to this call – live or download the show that evening – in these uncertain economic times, its more important than ever to build our sales, relationship, people and promotional skills. Mark Tewart has all sorts of information to help you to move yourself to the next level – even in this economic climate.

For the most up to date information for all tours, visit

Nikki Leigh – Award winning Author & Publicist

Book Promo 101 –
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