Getting Book Reviews

One of the toughest things for a new self-published author is getting book reviews that are honest and legitimate. It can even be difficult getting book reviews that are illegitimate and biased! While it’s tough to determine how much a good review can help you or how much a bad review can hurt, it’s obvious that the more reviews you have the greater chance you have that somebody will see your book. More eyes on your book usually equal more sales, so it’s almost always worth it to get as many reviews as possible.

Here are my top 5 methods for getting book reviews!

1. An Even Trade

There are many, many authors out there looking to get their books reviewed. If all you have to do is read a half-decent book and write a review on it to get your book reviewed, you are only limited in this method by time. I am currently doing a 100 Days, 100 Reviews promotion on the Kindle Digital Publishing website in an effort to get my new book reviewed 100 times during the summer. It helps that I don’t have a standard 9 to 5 job, but there’s no reason why you can’t get a ton of review using this method over the course of a few months or a year. If an author likes your book enough, he or she might even mention you on a blog, mailing list, or personal website.

2. Submit and Hope

There are many different websites that do reviews on a regular basis. While many of these are fiction sites geared toward a particular genre, there are some sites that will take any and all comers. There’s a catch-22 with this method. Most of the best sites on the Web for reviews have a long list of restrictions about what books they’ll read and they have a long waiting list that could mean your book’s review might never see the light of day. The common restrictions on these sites include not accepting e-books (which adds to your cost astronomically if submitting to many sites at once), only reviewing a particular genre, knowing the author personally, or only reviewing books the site likes (avoiding negative reviews could lead to your book not getting reviewed at all). This method is less work on your part, though there is no guarantee that your book will be reviewed in a timely fashion. Some of these sites have a length submission process of information they require along with the book, so keep that in mind when scheduling a “submit and hope” review pilfering session.

3. Pay to Play

Do not get me wrong here, I’m not talking about paying somebody to write a positive review about your book. There are reputable review companies that will accept a lump sum payment for an honest and respectable review about your book. I have not done this method myself (as I’m attempting to keep things on the cheap side for now) but I imagine that some authors have found mild success with it. Companies I have heard about that do this are Kirkus Indie and Foreward Clarion, which offer the service through Amazon’s CreateSpace. Several hundred dollars is too much for one review (albeit a reputable one) for me at this time, but if you have money to spare, this might be an option for you.

4. Asking Your Niche This is a similar method to “Submit and Hope” though I’ve found a slightly better success rate. In this method, you look for blogs and former customers that are interested in your niche and you ask if they would be willing to do a review of your product. Usually, you are going to want to host some kind of giveaway connected with t he review, like a free copy of the product for one of the people who comments on the blog. I recently took part in what I’ll call a Review Parade in which I contacted around 70 blogs connected with homeschooling and asked if they would review my book 500 Writing Prompts for Kids. Around 25 of them responded with 18 of them eventually doing the reviews. This method allowed me to get a lot of site traffic and new potential customers.

5. Friends and Family

I know, I know, some people do not see asking your friends and family for reviews as a legitimate and trustworthy method. I mean, how biased could your mom or your girlfriend be? I try to stick with acquaintances and friends who will agree to write me an honest account of their feelings about the book. One idea for getting a lot of your friends to help out (because friends are always busy when you need them) is to have a dinner party in which you do a reading of your book or give out copies. Even though your friends will really want to help you out, it will be like pulling teeth to get them to actually complete the review. Try to get them to write as much of the review down as possible during your party and send it to them after typing up the reviews. Bug these friends frequently until they post the reviews. Maybe one day, when I’m rich and famous, I will no longer stoop to getting my friends to review my work, but whether or not they review it, it’s a great excuse to share what you do with the people you know and love.

Use a combination of the above methods to have the best possible effect (as many reviews as you can get). If you start building up clout in the industry, these methods will take care of themselves and bloggers and friends may begin to review your work without you having to lift a finger!

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