Getting book reviews may be one of the toughest challenges an author will face. It seems sometimes that no matter how diligent you are about giveaways and pitching book reviewers, those reviewing parties can be slow to respond.
True, reviews won’t necessarily make or break a book, but they DO help your book’s discoverability, and there is no question that more (and better) book reviews translate to bigger sales. Reviews from readers on Amazon and Goodreads are useful; reviews on book review and book blogger sites offer the added benefit of getting you more inbound links to your author website.
And, on the craft side, honest reviews can give us insights into the reader’s point of view, often informing how you write subsequent work.
Here, a few tips to get (and get the most from) book reviews!
Start With a List
One of our Winner Circle features is listing book reviewers by genre. We include the best and brightest in each genre, and it’ll save you hours wading through thousands of reviewers that won’t be a good fit, as well as those with little or no traffic. (Our list of hundreds of “hopefuls” only gets on when we see substantial traffic and sharing from them.)
That said, you’ll still run into other possibilities, and many sites who aren’t traditional book review sites willing to review your book because it’s a “content match” (i.e. mommy bloggers, political sites, etc.), so maintaining a list of these folks as you happen upon them will be critical once it’s pitch time.
Track results of your pitches, too, especially if you plan on more than one book in the same genre as you’ll be pitching folks again!
If you know in advance favorite sites and book bloggers you’d like to pitch, begin cultivating relationships with them NOW. Follow their blogs, weigh in on comment sections, and engage with them on social media. These folks are highly sought after, so the more you can do to be better known to them when pitch time comes, the better!
Yes, this will require some advance planning and a bit of elbow grease. And yes, it’s worth it. Influential bloggers can be serious marketing partners, especially for new, unknown authors.
Work the Pitch
Remember all those query letter lessons from past writers’ conferences? Pull ’em out, dust ’em off, because pitching a book reviewer has become every bit as challenging as pitching an agent or editor.
Your pitch should:
- Follow the EXACT submission policy of each reviewer. Some want print ARCs, others want pdfs or epubs.
- Personalize the pitch to match the reviewer (who you’ve taken the time to get to know via their site already, right?!)
- Your cover letter or email pitch should include a kind intro, a BRIEF (think elevator pitch) synopsis of your book, and a BRIEF blurb on you and your qualifications. If someone of note has blurbed your book, that’s also worth mentioning; even book bloggers like to be in good company.
- A requested timeline, i.e., “My book releases in 90 days so it would be wonderful if the book could run in ____” is helpful if you’re not demanding.
- Close with a thank you to the book blogger for their community and all they do to promote great books!
Getting More Amazon Reviews
Obviously, you want to remind EVERYONE who reads your book to leave a few words on Amazon. Be sure to give them the direct link to do that.
You can also search for Amazon reviewers in your genre by searching out those books on Amazon and who has reviewed them. An easy place to begin is from your own book page on Amazon and the “Customers Who Bought This Have Also Bought…” Visit those book links and see who has reviewed their work. Fair warning: Because of so much spam, fewer reviewers are providing contact info. You may need to follow them to connect.
Don’t Overlook the Giveaways
Amazon, Goodreads and Library Thing all offer giveaways. Follow the instructions carefully, and KINDLY ask winners to post their honest reviews. Hint: Do NOT ask a reader to leave a five-star review – it’s the fastest way to alienate readers. Frankly, you’d prefer honest reviews and it’s great to have a mix of review ratings on your site. Even the best authors do!
You can also conduct giveaways on your own author website, or offer up books to the book bloggers who love doing giveaways of their own!
Share Your Reviews!
Every time you get a review, get the most out of it by sharing the news with your social media fans and on your website. If the review appears on a book blogger or newspaper website, make sure you provide the link. Showing your appreciation for the reviews you get WILL result in more reviews for your work!
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- How to Solicit Book Reviews—and Get Results