Book Reviews – The Eternal Struggle
Obtaining reviews for your book is unfortunately a must. One would hope that the shopper would solely browse based on a combination of factors such as story synopsis, quality book cover design, author reputation, price, etc. However, is has been shown that consumers, whether consciously or subconsciously put heavy weight on book reviews. This is especially true in online marketplaces like Amazon which they have admitted, does affect the ranking algorithm. Getting good reviews for your book is not as difficult as it may seem but will take some legwork.
The first and most obvious place to start is seeking reviews from friends and family. No one has to know these reviews are coming from a biased source but you can always make it clear that you want honest reviews. Be sure to field out any friends or family that may have jealousy issues. Writing a great novel with the potential to become a sensation is already more than the average person accomplishes. Sounds paranoid and mean to say that but I’ve experienced that form of sabotage multiple times in my life.
Utilize beta readers. You’ve likely already found some at this point and have worked closely with them on structural issues. Go ahead and ask them for a review regarding the overall quality of the story. They’ve already read the book obviously so why not get a review.
Ask your blog readers for reviews. They’re probably already fans so the odds of a good review increase. You can offer incentives like a free copy of your next book in exchange for a review of the current book.
Seek out reviews from book bloggers. Many of them are already swamped but if you engage them on their blog and on social media for a while prior, they may be willing to move you to the front of the pack. Bloggers that are not as popular will likely have more time though, and because part of your goal is not just quality but quantity, try to get as many as you can.
Ask for reviews on the last page of your book. Just like video games back in the day had a “Thank You for Playing” message, give your book a “Thank You for Reading” message and follow with a request for an honest review.
Run giveaway promotions for one day or even a few hours on social media. Include a stipulation that you expect a review in exchange for the free copy. Not all will leave one but most will. You could also give away free copies on popular reader communities such as Goodreads.com and Librarything.com.
Pay for reviews on professional review sites. The more scrupulous among these websites will only give your book an honest review so paying for reviews in this manner should not be considered shady at all. You may hear other authors complain about the cost to value ratio being unequal but this is not necessarily true. You can get a professional review from highly respected names at prices ranging from $150 to $400. Get four or five of these and put them on the actual book, in prominent positions on your blog, as well as anywhere else you can put them. This kind of vouching can have a positive effect on sales.
The tried and true method most often used is to seek out reviewers directly on Amazon. Find reviewers that have reviewed books similar to yours and send them a request. If they accept, send them a free copy of your book. This will take some repetition as probably only a third of the people you contact will agree or even respond. You may hear some talk that you need to get Amazon reviews from the top reviewers. While those would be great if you can get them, it is not a necessity. Those top Amazon reviewers are highly backlogged. Most shoppers could care less about reviews for a reviewer. They look at how many reviews your book has and what percentage of those reviews are favorable. Having a review from a top reviewer may have a minor effect on the ranking algorithm so definitely go for it, but don’t sweat it if you can’t get any.
As you can see, getting reviews for your book will be a lot of work. That should not come as a surprise though as pretty much everything is in this world. Some key factors to remember are:
1. Go after as many reviews as you can because not all contacts will respond or read your book.
2. Make sure you’re seeking reviews from the appropriate demographic. Don’t give your thriller to romance fans.
3. Keep everything organized in a spreadsheet. You’re going to have a lot of names, emails and locations of which to keep track.
4. Listen to the feedback. If you are getting consistent bad reviews, maybe your book is not ready for launch.
5. Most importantly, don’t give up. Writing is enjoyable, but marketing for most people is drudgery at its finest.
James Rose is a writer for InstantPublisher.com, a full-service self-publishing company with 100% of all work performed in-house. We have been helping authors realize their dreams for the past 14 years. Whether you’re printing a novel, how-to book, manual, brochure or any type of book you can imagine, our step-by-step instructions make publishing your own book simple and easy.
Michelle’s Comment: I’ve never paid for a review. Have you? Were you pleased with your purchase? Here’s another helpful post on reviews.