Janet from Arizona asks: How do I get my self-published book reviewed?
There are tons of tips and tricks you can implement when you are trying to get reviews for your book, but I'll start out with five things you can do just to get you going.
- The first thing to do is to form a review team. Now you're not going to see results from this team right away. This strategy is a long term venture much like building your author platform, but a few years down the road you'll be kicking yourself when you realize that you could have had a few hundred people on your team by then, but you were too impatient to do a few simple things to set this up.
So how do you set up a review team? You could have an opt-in page that links directly to an email list supported by aweber or mail chimp etc. or you could create a google doc form that people can fill out. On the one hand, the aweber opt-in is super convenient because you can send out a mass broadcast easily notifying your team of new releases needing to be read and reviewed.
However, I prefer the google docs form because I can ask more specific questions such as which format they prefer, do they have a blog, and a promise to read and review any book they request. It may take a few extra minutes to copy and paste everyone's emails into the email I send, but I'm okay with that. In my google doc I ask these questions:
- Email Address
- What format would you prefer?
- Are you willing to post your review on Amazon and Goodreads?
- For bloggers: Please provide your URL so I can promote your blog site when you post your reviews.
- Do you agree to read and review any review copy you ask for?
I also include a little explanation at the beginning of the doc to let them know what my expectations are and that I do not expect them to lie about the book just because they are on my team. Freedom to freely express their opinions is going to make it easier for them to be on your team. If you would like to see how my doc looks you can go to this link here.
Now you need to get people interested in signing up. I put a link to my sign-up form right under my newsletter opt-in form on the very first page of my website. I draw visitors to this link by asking a very specific question:
Want more free books?
I'm looking for people to join my awesome review team to read and review my new releases. If you enjoy reading romances of the swoon-worthy variety then click here to sign up.
You can see how that looks on my website here. You'll notice just underneath this question that I've also offered people an opportunity to request books I've already released so they have a choice to either sign-up for my team or just request a book...or both.
Now there are tons of other ways to get your form some exposure. You can
- include it in your email signature and forum signature for any forums you participate in.
- include it at the end of your book just after you include your newsletter link and polite request for a book review.
- include it in your author bio on Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter etc.
In other words, stick that sucker anywhere you have a presence on the internet and always start it off with Want some free books? or something similar to that. So you're asking them a question and following it up with a call to action. Get your free books by signing up for my review team here.
Monk with it until you've got it tweaked to fit your needs. I started my review team about six months ago...yep it took me that long in my career to stop being stupid...and I have a little over a hundred people on my team now. Can I tell you how wonderful these people are? Not only do they follow through with their commitments, but they always let me know about typos or weird plot issues that me and my editor failed to nail. So that's another great reason for having a review team you trust. They are always able to spot things you may have missed in order to help your book shine. And networking with these readers has earned me some great friends for life.
2. Another way to get reviews involves Goodreads Giveaways. Once your giveaway has ended you can click on it and see all of the people who have entered your giveaway. These are people who took the time to read your book description and click on your button. This means they are already interested in your genre, your book, and having a copy all to themselves.
Now just sending random messages to random people requesting reviews is always going to be a bad idea, but you have a large group of people who have zeroed in on your book and expressed interest so it is awesome to take advantage of that.
I like to send a few messages a day, five to ten depending on the amount of time I have, thanking them for entering the giveaway and wishing I could give every one who entered the giveaway a free paperback, but since that's not an option I'm super happy to give away an ecopy of the book in exchange for an honest review. If they are interested they can respond to the message and if not they can feel free to ignore it.
I've actually had people from previous giveaways contact me first and mention their disappointment at not winning the giveaway. Then they ask for a review copy which I am always happy to hand over. It seriously rocks when people contact me first, which is what gave me the idea. If there are this many people contacting me for a review copy, maybe there are others who entered the giveaway who would like one as well, but they aren't aware that it's okay for them to ask. So I make it easy for them.
Note: never send more than fifteen messages in a 24 hour period. Goodreads considers you a spammer when you do stuff like that, and since you're intent is honorable, and you're contacting interested parties, it would really suck to have Goodreads think you're a spammer.
3. Another way to get some reviews is by listing your book in Goodreads groups that are interested in your genre. Most of these groups have an author, reviewer, or freebie folder where you can offer up your book for free in exchange for an honest review. Make sure you always start a new topic in the folder so that members of the group can see your listing. The title of your topic should say something like: Seeking reviews for a billionaire romance, In need of reviews for a sci-fi adventure, or free copy in exchange for an honest review. Whatever you put in the title needs to catch a reviewers interest.
This can take some time simply because there are a lot of groups to sift through, and some have folders for authors and others don't like having authors solicit the group for reviews, but it is a lot faster than asking bloggers one by one to review your book, which involves reading their review policies, writing the email request just how they like it, and then possibly never hearing back from them due to their seriously long back log of books.
Here are a few things to consider when posting in groups on Goodreads.
- Try to get groups with five hundred members or more. That way your posting will be seen by more eyes.
- Always make sure you have your book as the topic of the conversation so that it is easier to find these listings and check them to see if new people have responded to your offer. You can check that by clicking on your book, scrolling down to the bottom of the page, and looking at the place where the links for each topic are listed at the bottom. You'll be able to see if any new replies have been posted.
- If it has been awhile since you've seen activity in some of these posts, simply go in and make a comment in the thread about the book still being available so it pushes your book up to the top and gets it visible in the group again. That little trick has really helped me get more people to respond who didn't have the chance to see it when it was first posted.
- Try to come up with a goal of how many groups you post to each day. I like to post in five groups a day when I'm seeking out reviews for new books or even older books that still need more reviews. You spend just a few minutes copying and pasting your review request details in a few groups each day instead of burning yourself out by doing thirty in one day, though if you really want to do that be my guest.
Note: it is also a great idea to include your review team link at the bottom of your post and also a review team invite in your email when sending copies to people who have responded to your post. You've found people interested enough to request a review copy of your book. Don't let them get lost once they've read and reviewed your book by not offering them a place on your team.
4. Another way is to get on Book Blogger List and start going down the list one by one and emailing bloggers who are interested in your genre. You can tell how excited I am about that approach. Yuck. However, despite how time consuming this can be, when I've set a goal of emailing three bloggers a day, I do find that the process isn't quite so tedious, and I do get responses to my requests. It isn't as effective or as fast as the other tips I've mentioned, but I've met some great bloggers on Book Blogger Listso don't knock it until you've tried it.
5. Hire out! This option involves paying companies to contact a large group of book reviewers for you, thus eliminating how time consuming the usual process can be. One site I used for my clean romance book offered this review service for $150 and states that the number of reviews that are typically given with each book can range anywhere from 20-125. In my opinion, even if I can only get 20 reviews, that's money well spent because it saves me so much time and effort.
I wasn't at all disappointed with this site, either. The response was very quick and I've had over fifteen reviews for Marry Your Billionaire with more coming in everyday, and yes, I track them to make sure I know where they are coming from. I worked with Kathy at eBooks For Review. You can find out more information on her book tours and pricing here.
Note: authors of erotica need not apply. We're talking PG-PG-13 ratings for this website folks.
There are other websites that offer this kind of service such as YA Bound Book Tours, Xpresso Book Tours, which also has a review service for $50 and a net galley co-op for $60, and Readers' Favorite: Book Reviews and Award Contest. This last site is pretty sweet and I recommend it to all of my author buddies.
I haven't tried YA Bound Book Tours or Xpresso Book Tours, but I plan to in the future. If anyone has done reviews with those folks, please comment and share your experience with us.
Note: you are not paying for reviews. You are paying for people to do the leg work you would normally have to do in order to find readers interested in reading and reviewing your book. Don't ever pay for a review, folks. Why do that when there are so many options available to you?
Make sure these sites are sending out email blasts to people interested in your genre and that they can give you an idea of how many reviews you can expect, though I'm sure results vary depending on how great your cover is, how compelling your blurb is, and how good the book actually is.
Just remember that you can employ all of these techniques until your fingers are raw and bleeding and your eyes develop a white milky sheen due to the glare of your computer screen, but none of this will help you get reviews if your cover, blurb, and book stink to high heaven.
I hope this rather long tip list helps to give you a starting place when it comes to getting reviews in a smart and time efficient manner. Just remember to have a game plan and stay organized. Whether you post in three or five groups a day, send five messages to giveaway entrants, or email a few different bloggers, set your goal, keep it, and then walk away from the computer.
Your family will thank you for your undivided attention.
If anyone else has a review site that they've found to be excellent please list it in your comments so we can all benefit from the knowledge.