By Amy Collins
Dear Readers of The Book Designer,
I have seen some great comments below which I have responded to, but I wanted to add a few new lines to my suggestions as I have written them below.
In the spirit of DO THIS NOT THAT, I was trying to say that I USED to SPAM readers (unintentionally) by grabbing their emails from Amazon reviews of similar titles and emailing them to ask if they would like a free review copy.
Both Amazon and the rest of the world realized that this was not a good practice and Amazon stopped publishing email addresses of readers.
What I was trying to say below is that writing to readers you find on Amazon and asking them to review your books is not a good idea.
HOWEVER, Amazon, Goodreads, and other sites which publish reviews from BOOK REVIEWERS are still great places to find book reviewers. A book reviewer has a website or a blog and if they want to be contacted, they leave the URL in their Amazon bio or Goodreads fields.
Reaching out to book reviewers who present themselves as professional book industry contacts and finding them through sites such as Amazon and Goodreads is what I was suggesting.
I hope that helps. Next month, I will be a little more careful about my terminology!
Two years ago, it was so easy to find the top Amazon.com reviewers and approach them and ask for reviews. There was software that let authors and publishers find the name and email addresses of the thousands of Amazon reviewers who had already written reviews of books in a similar vein.
I had written a self-help book for women about lowering stress, so it was easy to find the bestselling books on stress reduction and find the contact information on Amazon of those who had reviewed those bestselling books.
Then, I put together a BULK email using MailChimp and emailed THOUSANDS of reviewers all in one afternoon.
It. Was. Awesome.
Then, for some reason, in March of 2018, Amazon made a decision to hide the email addresses of reviewers on their profiles. Speculation was they did this because of the new GDPR rules and regulations but no one really knows why. This completely stopped authors from being able to email potential reviewers–even if the reviewers didn’t mind being contacted with their information public on their profile.
Does this mean it’s the end of finding targeted reviewers for books? Absolutely NOT! But it is a lot harder than it used to be.
Amazon is REALLY working hard to hide the contact information of book reviewers, and GoodReads only lets you message a few readers every day before shutting you down for the day. HOW, then, can you reach the reviewers and readers who write reviews?
That was the long, painful, whiney question I asked Debbie Drum last week on the phone. I was complaining about the lack of reviewer emails available and how easy it used to be to mass-email folks.
Now, I have to write each email individually or I get hit by Gmail or Earthlink with a blacklist mark. (I DO NOT want to be considered a “spammer”!)
Debbie has a program called Book Review Targeter that pulls data on readers and reviewers of specific books. I LOVE the idea of using software to find readers and reviewers of books written by authors in my community. There are authors out there who have already written books that appeal to MY readers. Finding readers and getting them to consider my book is SO much easier when I start by knowing my fellow authors and reach out to THEIR readers.
With this idea firmly in place, and knowing that it is no longer “cool” to mass email folks. HOW CAN I REACH THEM?
Well Debbie agreed to jump in and answer exactly that! So welcome Debbie Drum as she answers some of my biggest questions:
Amy: Debbie, is there any way in today’s world, to email readers in a way that does not “spam” them?
Debbie: The good news is YES.
When researching comparable authors to find books that have a lot of reviews online, look for bestselling books to start. When a bestselling author releases a book and they have done “everything right” – meaning
- they have done the market research,
- their cover is beyond professional,
- their description is spot on and convincing,
- and their content is killer,
then that author will probably have a lot more reviews and you will get better review response results from mass cold emails.
I would say first test out in a small segment to see if mass emailing will work for you. If it doesn’t, don’t give up. There are certainly other ways to get the reviews you need to sell more books.
Amy: So what other options do we have? That’s the next question.
Debbie: Social Media is also a great place to find reviewers. When looking for book reviewers, and influencers that can share and promote a book, I like to start with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest.
All of these amazing platforms have direct messaging and commenting components to them.
What’s so great about this? A lot of these social media platforms are listed on an Amazon reviewer’s bio page.
Not every profile on Amazon has this social data present. It’s only if the person WANTS to provide this data publicly. But it is a great place to start.
There is software such as Book Review Targeter that can pull these social media addresses, or you can do it manually. But be aware that for every 1,000 reviewers you look up, you will find perhaps 50-100 social media addresses. But that is GREAT!
Now you have 50 targeted people to contact and YOU have the upper hand. Now that you have the social links of reviewers, let’s go over some rules and what to say to get the reviewers to review your book!
Amy: What is the best way to connect with readers in this new world?
Debbie: There are only four rules to follow when it comes to contacting reviewers.
Here they are:
#1 – Be Brief
This is the most important that’s why it’s FIRST. Don’t write paragraph after paragraph after paragraph. This is a HUGE mistake. In a couple of sentences you can explain what your book is about, why you are contacting them, what they will get out of it (more about this in #3) and what to do next.
People will tune you out if you go on and on.
The conversation will continue in a natural fashion through the direct messaging channel if a good connection is made.
#2 – Add Something Personal
In this day and age, it’s OK to “stalk” your prospects. If you are contacting someone on YouTube, watch their videos and make a comment on what you like or what your favorite video of theirs is.
If you are contacting someone on Facebook, take note of a picture they posted or something you might have in common with that person.
Another thing you can do is read the review they wrote of the other book. Make a comment about their review.
The point is you want to add something personal to your message to make it stand out and not look so spammy and cookie cutter.
Does this take a little bit more time? Yes, but it will pay off a lot more than blasting the same message in 500 emails and “wasting” them to get little to no response.
#3 – Talk About benefits for THEM
Remember, these reviewers you are reaching out to are strangers for the most part. Do you think they care about why you need more reviews? Or where you are looking to take your career as an author? NOPE THEY DON’T.
What do they care about?
They care about what your book will do for them. So TELL THEM!
Instead of talking about you and what their review will do for you, talk about them and what benefits they will get out of reading your book. Your message should not just include your book description. Copying and pasting your book description will not work and it also breaks rule #1 on brevity.
Make a list of 3-5 bullet points of what outcome they should expect. Compel them to respond. The review process is a part of marketing so put on your copywriting cap to convince the reader they should spend time with YOU. Get help with this if you need it. IT’S THAT IMPORTANT!
#4 – Have the ability for them to get your book for free
The worst thing you can do is cold message someone and then ask them to buy your book. Have a way you can get them the book for free either as a PDF or with a program like Book Connect.
That’s it. Those are the rules. They aren’t that hard to follow but each one is important so make sure you follow them!
Amy: What are some other ways of getting reviews in today’s publishing atmosphere?
Debbie: You could be doing more to get organic reviews (reviews that come naturally).
Once you get about 10 – 15 reviews under your belt, that’s enough to get you enough social proof for your book to sell. With those reviews, you will get more sales and more readers.
First and foremost be sure to ask for a review inside of your book so readers understand it’s important for you to hear their feedback.
You can do more inside of your book as well.
Before you publish, set a specific hashtag for all of your book marketing. For example, one of my hashtags for a book was #readbetterfaster.
After I requested a review inside the book, I also asked my readers to use the hashtag #readbetterfaster in any social media posting they did. So, if they reviewed or said anything about my book on social media, I could easily find it and connect with that reader and either make a connection and/or ask them personally to post their review on Amazon if they didn’t already.
Lastly, I’ll give you another big tip. Amazon is now offering prime real estate for video reviews. You get the real estate as a reviewer (Hint: This is a great way to market yourself.) and your book will stand out more if someone leaves you a video review for your book or product. Video reviews will give your book extra oomph. Once you have enough reviews under your belt, try to get some folks to leave you a video review. It will go a long way!
Times are changing and as authors we have to adapt. Getting reviews is tough at first but you cannot ignore the process.