Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Authors: How to Get Reviews for Your Book

So your book's been released. It's got a handful of reviews from your family, close friends, and those writers you've been interacting with since you first started blogging. It looks awesome on Amazon :-) But then you start looking around and realizing that the popular books have hundreds of reviews. Some of them have thousands. How are you supposed to compete with your meagre 33 (or whatever smallish number it may be) reviews?

Mission: acquire more reviews.

Book Bloggers

Book bloggers are awesome. Ordinary people who, for nothing more than the love of reading, commit to spending time with your book and writing their thoughts on it to help you get exposure and to help other readers find new books they might love. So how do you go about getting your book into the hands of these fabulous people? Start by looking through directories of book bloggers, such as the Book Blogger Directory or The Indie View. Go to each blog, see if it's still active (i.e. if there are recent posts) and then read their review policy. Once you've sorted through the inactive blogs, the blogs that don't read your genre, the blogs that are currently not accepting requests, and the blogs that don't accept requests from indies, you're ready to make your list of suitable book bloggers from whatever's left.

To keep track of the requests you send, make a spreadsheet (I love spreadsheets!) that includes columns for Blog Name, Blog URL, Contact Email, Contact Person's Name, Date Request Was Sent, Response Received. You could write a generic request, paste all the email addresses into the BCC section, and click send. But you're more likely to get a response if you personalise your requests. Even something as simple as addressing the reviewer by name and mentioning their blog's name (Dear Cherie, I'm a recent follower of your blog, Cotton Socks Reviews, and I ... blah, blah, blah) before pasting in your generic request. And make sure to include all the info that was requested in the book blogger's review policy.

And then you wait to hear back from them!

The catch? Time. Time to compile a list of reviewers. Time to send an individual email to each one. And if you hear back from half of them you're lucky!

Amazon Top Reviewers

Amazon has a list of their top customer reviewers. These reviewers have not only reviewed many items, but their reviews are also considered helpful and well-rounded. You want these people to review your book! But these are people who can review anything on Amazon. They don't all review books, and of those who do review books, they won't all review books in your genre. You need to click on each person, take a look at what they review, and if they appear to be suitable, see if their contact information is available on their reviewer profile. If it is, send them a polite request. If not, try again with another reviewer.

The catch? Time. There are a lot of reviewers on that list. If you're hoping to contact a decent number of them with requests to review your book, you're going to be spending a lot of time on that list.

Goodreads Groups

There are many groups on Goodreads, and some, like the We <3 YA Books group, have Read to Review programs. You sign up, and when your turn comes, you provide a specific number of ebooks (or an unlimited amount) for review. Readers sign up, you send them the ebook, and they have a certain time period in which to read the book and leave a review. The review will be on Goodreads at a minimum, but some also post to sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

The catch? Time. The schedules fill up FAST, so it can be months before your book comes up for review. For example, if you sign up right now for the Read to Review program in We <3 YA Books, your book will go onto the review schedule for July.

Paid Services

I'm not talking about paying for good reviews. That's definitely not cool! I'm talking about legitimate services where you pay for someone to take the time to read your book and write an honest, unbiased review. Here are a few examples:

Self-Publishing Review
Review The Book
BlueInk Review
Xpresso Book Tours

The catch? You have to part with money. In some cases, A LOT of money!

Just Ask

If someone sends you a fan email or a message on Facebook or a tweet telling you how much they loved your book, thank them -- and then add that if they have a moment to leave a review somewhere online, you would be VERY grateful.

At the end of your ebook you could include a short request for readers to leave a review of your book online. It could be a short note like, Thank you for reading this book. If you have a moment, please consider leaving a review online. Or it could be a slightly longer and more personal "letter". A paragraph or two addressed to Dear Reader telling him/her how important reviews are to authors and other readers and how grateful you would be to hear his/her thoughts, whether he/she loved the book, hated it, or something in between.

The catch? Well, I guess if someone gets to the end of your book and didn't like it, you're then prompting them to leave their (less than positive) thoughts online. But I honestly think you have more to gain than to lose by politely asking for a review. If someone loved your book and knew how important each review was to you, I think they'd be happy to take a few minutes to write one.


If you're an author, do you have any review-gathering
tactics to share with us?
What's worked for you and what hasn't?


Rachel Morgan said...


Author Susan Kaye Quinn blogged yesterday about her experience on NetGalley. She formed a co-op of authors in order to share the cost of having a yearly subscription with NetGalley. She's looking for more authors, so if you're interested, visit her blog post here:

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great tips, Rachel. I hadn't thought of most of them. I think another way to get reviews is to follow blogs you think would review your books and be a follower.

~Sia McKye~ said...

It does take time to set up reviews and blog tours. Actually, your tips work for both. Looking over the bloggers site and seeing if you fit. Some good points in this article. :-)

Keep in mind that those who do reviews may have a list of requests longer than you are tall and may say no on the first round of requests. When I review for the big pubs I usually get the book two or three months before the release day because they want the reviews to start the month before the release. On Amazon, that's only possible if you, as a reviewer, are on a particular list--Romance Times, or a reviewer from a trade publication. But, you can load your review to Goodreads and a few other sites first and then to Amazon on release date.

Also, keep in mind, that doing reviews is work. It takes time and it time sensitive. In other words, there's a deadline involved. Especially when you get an ARC from NetGalley or from the publicity reps. You take the book you are honor bound to read and review. When I review I use a different mindset. Not just reading for pleasure and giving an opinion--altho that comes into it--it's a professional look at the story. It's also easy to burn out as a reviewer. I know I've pulled back for a while and I pick and choose more carefully now. My time constraints are different now.

Also a good point you made was check out what genres the reviewer reads. For example, I don't like to read horror. I just don't like it and I state that and you wouldn't believe how many requests I get to review it. I do get requests from friends out of my reading genre and I do try to accommodate them but again, it's harder work to review outside your reading pleasure.

Sia McKye Over Coffee

Rachel Morgan said...

Yes, I think book bloggers definitely appreciate it when we follow their blogs :-)

Rachel Morgan said...

Thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts, Sia :-)
I think book bloggers must be serious speed readers -- I honestly don't know how they get through so many books! I completely understand when a reviewer has to decline new requests because their current pile of TBR books is just too high. Because of this, I've been trying to find new book review blogs that I hope won't have accumulated such a long TBR pile yet. Or blogs that have multiple reviewers contributing to them.

Cherie Reich said...

Great tips on finding people to review your book!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I help my publisher find book bloggers to review my books. Thanks for letting us know how to get into Goodreads groups. I've always heard that was a good option but no one ever explained how to do it. I'd asked my publisher once about Net Galley - their opinion was less than stellar shall we say.

Rachel Morgan said...

Thanks, Cherie :-)

Rachel Morgan said...

I've researched NetGalley a lot more in the past few days and, sadly, there are a lot of indie authors who've had bad experiences with reviews through NetGalley :-(

erica and christy said...

Thanks, Rachel. This has been one of many questions on my list lately. Christy

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