PUBLISHED JULY 2014
by R.J. Adams, Author –
Book reviews are a form of social proof.
When readers are deciding whether or not to buy a book, one thing they look at is reviews, and a lack of reviews can cause potential readers to move on to another book.
Although it’s obvious how important reviews are, it can be tough to get them, especially for new books. The challenge is a lot like the classic “which came first: the chicken or the egg?” puzzle. It’s harder to get people to buy your book if you don’t have reviews, and it’s hard to get reviews if people don’t buy and read your book.
But it is possible. Plus, by reaching out in unusual places to get more reviews, you can expose your book to an even wider audience and generate more sales.
Here are some ways to get more reviews for your books:
Ask your readers in the back of the book
The space at the back of a book is valuable. If someone makes it to the back of the book, chances are they liked it. So, you might as well take advantage of this opportunity to reach people who probably liked your book let them know that reviews are hard to get.
Let them know that you would greatly appreciate it if they took just a little bit more of their time to leave you a review at Amazon. Some readers just do not know how important a review is, or they aren’t thinking about reviews. By bringing the subject up at the back of your book, you can increase the chances of getting reviews from those who make it to the end.
Ask your readers via your mailing list and social media
If you have readers on a mailing list or connected to you via social media, then use these avenues to make an appeal to them. Let them know that you’re struggling to get reviews, and ask anyone who has read your book please to take a moment to review it.
If someone follows you on Twitter or Likes you on Facebook and has provided you with an email address, chances are that person likes you and likes your work and could give you a positive review.
Make your request via social media at least once every couple of weeks.
Since people may not see every post you make, a simple message asking for a review every so often isn’t intrusive, and it can really help you get more reviews.
Be sure to celebrate any great reviews on social media and in your mailings. This will entice other people to want to leave a review in hopes of being recognized in such a celebratory manner.
See who has reviewed books similar to yours and approach them
This will take a bit of legwork but don’t worry; you will be able to get good results.
Start by going to Amazon to find books that are similar to yours. Open each book in a new tab. Then scroll to the reviews for each one and open each reviewer’s profile in a new tab. Look at each profile, one by one, to see if the reviewer lists an email address or Web- site. If so, put the reviewer’s name and whatever contact information was provided into a spreadsheet. Do this for as many similar books as you can.
Then comes the fun part. One by one, start reaching out to reviewers. Say that you read their reviews of [whatever genre] books or of books about [whatever subject] and that you would love to send a copy of your book. Also say that you would like to receive a review on Amazon and anywhere else they publish reviews. Be sure to address each reviewer by name, using your spreadsheet.
Yes, this takes some hard work, but your success rate will be relatively high since you are asking people who want to be contacted (they listed their contact information), and who are interested in books similar to yours.
Search for book reviewers on Twitter
Twitter is a great place to find people with similar interests—and many book reviewers. To find them, use the Twitter search function. Do searches for “book reviewer,” “review books,” “reviews books,” and the like. Results will show some tweets with those phrases, and if you scroll down a little bit, you will see a People section. Click View All; then browse through the list of users, looking for people who review relevant books.
When reviewers list their Websites, you can go there, browse, and possibly find a way to submit your book for review. At the very least, you can find contact information so you can reach out to them, as above.
Be creative with the search phrases you use. Try including your genre (don’t be too specific, stay broad) and other words that are related to your book that will differentiate your search phrases.
Find book review blogs
Many, many blogs are dedicated to reviewing books, and if they give you a review, they will also expose your book to their audiences.
To get started, use a search engine such as Google or Bing, and search phrases such as “book review blog,” “book reviewer,” and, as appropriate, “romance book reviews,” “children’s book reviews,” “sports books reviews” and the like.
Try to find blogs that crosspost their reviews to Amazon, Goodreads, and other sites to maximize your exposure.
If a blog seems to review only A-list books, skip it. If a blog hasn’t had any new posts for a month, skip it. If it doesn’t review books like yours, skip it. If it doesn’t make contact easy or if it charges money, skip it (you can find plenty that don’t charge).
Find blogs focused on themes and topics in your book
Probably the best way to get reviews is to reach out to blogs based on a particular book’s topics and themes. This is definitely much easier to do for nonfiction, but it works for fiction as well (think, for example, about the possibilities when a character in a novel is an adopted kid or when the main character loves her cat).
Using search engines, search for blogs and forums on your book’s topics and themes. You should be able to find quite a few that you can reach out to, offering a copy of your book free.
This is a win for everyone involved. The bloggers get a free book with material they are obviously interested in. The also get something to write about on their blogs, something that their readers will love. The readers learn about a book that covers the topic that they read blogs about. And you get a review, probably along with more sales.
Yes, this method takes the most effect, but it also pays off the best. If you’re looking not only to get more reviews but to boost exposure and sales of your book, then I advise you to try it.
R.J. Adams is an author (under pen names) and a book marketer. He and Shawn Manaher run BookMarketingTools.com, a site dedicated to tools for authors, education on marketing and self-publishing, and creating a community of like-minded authors. This article is derived from one featured on the Book Marketing Tools blog, which offers information to help indie publishing businesses. To learn more: firstname.lastname@example.org.