Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How to Get People to Review Your Fiction Book

     Those who publish with big-name book producers have help when it comes to publicity. Agents and marketing departments scramble to get the word out about the next amazing novel. After all, if they don't sell your book, they don't make back their investment, right? But for those of us in the Indie world, we must get the word out ourselves. The first step in this process, for me, is getting people to review my book online.
     Gone are the days when a writer could design a killer book cover, come up with an amazing blurb for the back, and sit back and hope people would be intrigued enough to pick it up off the bookshelf, turn it over and read the blurb, and run to the cash register to pay for it. While many Indies can sell books through local brick and mortar stores, the majority of our books--we hope--will sell online. Now when someone sees a book on Amazon they might be interested in, they study the cover, read the description... and read the reviews.

     Obviously, a book with reasonable reviews will be more likely to sell. This causes a vicious cycle some writers have allowed themselves to get sucked into; reviews=sales=money. So many writers take the obvious route and pay for people to review their work. Now, I am aware there are several companies out there with reasonable reputations who have review services, but I do not recommend Indies should spend their hard-earned money on these services. At least, not at first. Here are my recommendations for getting reviews.

     Before I get a flurry of indignant letters, please let me say I would never encourage authors to a: trade positive reviews with other authors or b: ask friends and family to flood their pages with positive reviews. Reviews written dishonestly are never acceptable.

    1. Have your book available in ebook format, and order ARC copies. I recommend budgeting a certain amount for review copies and shipping. Remember if you are including a personal letter to your reviewer you cannot send the book Media Mail. If you are planning to publish in hardcover you might want to consider ordering your ARCs in paperback just to save on shipping costs.

    2. Find online reviewers.  This is a time-consuming task, especially because many reviewers refuse to even consider reading Indie books. Don't give up! Even if a small portion agree to review your book it will be valuable. One place to start is Amazon. You can find Amazon's top reviewers here.  Find reviewers who have reviewed books in your genre. They should have a profile page where you can find links to their blogs and information on submitting reviews. Another great place to find bloggers who specifically review Indie books is a great list on The Indie View, found here. Most of the bloggers who have reviewed my book are from this list.

   3. Take time and care to ask nicely. Do not churn out a form email you quickly send to every name on the list. Bloggers are human beings, and they receive tons of requests for reviews. Read their guidelines carefully. If you see a book in the same genre as yours, mention it in your letter. Mention you saw their blog, and what you thought of it. Tell a little bit about the book, and include a link to your website, Amazon listing, Goodreads listing, etc. Offer a review copy in ebook format or print. NEVER offer payment for a review. This is insulting to most bloggers. And NEVER ask for payment for your book. They are taking time and effort to review your book out of the many they receive.

   4. Give out review copies to people in your community. If you have written a children's book, give copies to teachers and daycare workers. If you have a young adult novel, try high school librarians or youth workers. I always include a little slip of paper with a request for an honest review and my Amazon, Goodreads and Smashwords link. People appreciate being asked for their opinion, and sometimes these can be the best reviews. Not to mention if they like your book they will probably recommend it to other people.

    5. Ask everyone who purchases your book to leave a review. Make sure you include information in the book about where and how they can leave it. Always remember to say their honest opinion is extremely important to you as a writer.

    6. Sit back and wait... the hardest part! This is your baby, after all, and it's agonizing to wait and wonder what people will think about it. But pestering bloggers and reviewers is never the way to go. Some bloggers might take months to get to your book, which is why it's important to contact several at a time. Don't count on just a few people to give you reviews. And whatever you do, if you get a less than positive review, do not respond. This will only make things worse.

Do you have any suggestions for finding reviews? I would love to hear them! And if you are a blogger who gives Indie book reviews please feel free to add a link to your blog below as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment