By Beth Barany
The number one way readers learn about books is word of mouth. In this Internet day and age, that is still true. Yet, book reviews still hold enormous sway over readers, whether they’re browsing for the next read that’s like one of their favorite authors or they’re checking out their friend’s recommendations.
This article will specifically cover getting reviews from readers and not from professional reviewers.
I do know that it can be challenging getting reviews posted but that doesn’t need to stop you from asking readers to post reviews.
Joel Friedlander covered fundamentals about getting book reviews in his article here: Book Reviews for Self-Published Authors: A Primer.
Though Joel’s article is a few years old, his information on how to get your material ready to request reviews is helpful and still relevant today.
You can also use his resources on how to find book reviewers, though some of it may be out of date, so check the links first.
In this article, I want to focus on two things:
- the DIY approach to getting book reviews
- the services available to novelists for getting book reviews
The information I’m presenting here is useful if you are an independently published author or an author working to support the efforts of your publisher.
Whether you go after book reviews for yourself or have a service do it for you, I recommend you gather these following materials in one place. (I have a folder for each book and each of these items are properly marked and right there when I open the folder.)
Note: You may want to load all the material you’ll share with a book reviewer into a Google Drive or Dropbox folder to easily share. I personally just email my information to the reviewer.
- A metadata document that contains your book’s:
- book description
- author bio
I even put vendor links and book descriptions of different lengths here.
- Your published book in Word, PDF, epub, and mobi files.
- The book cover in at least 3 sizes:
- large (the one uploaded to the vendors)
- medium (half that size)
- small (a quarter the size of the large file)
- An excerpt of the book in its own file; some book reviewers may want to see the before deciding if the book is right for them.
- You can also create an images folder with memes of the book, that is the cover with a short quote, either from the book or from a reader or professional reviewer. There may be other images associated with your story that you want to have on hand too.
- I recommend also having an author photo in your promotions folder.
DIY Getting Book Reviews
In additional to the sources mentioned in Joel’s article for finding book reviewers, be sure to ask your list if they would like to review your book. Let them know you have a limited number of books for review and that you would like them to let you know when they post a review.
Also, be sure to ask them to post a disclaimer, something like this disclaimer that I send to my reviewers:
“Reviewer guidelines: When/if you do leave a review (Goodreads, Amazon, etc.), please say that you “received a copy in consideration for an honest review.” Thanks!”
When I send out books for review, I keep track in a spreadsheet, so I know what book I’ve sent to whom and when.
When I’m really organized, I like running a “book review campaign” where I aim to send out a certain number of requests in a specific span of time.
For example, in the past I’ve sent out one book review request a day for 30 days. That way I wasn’t overwhelmed and I could fit this activity into the rest of my day.
You could aim to send out 5 requests once a week or 10 requests once a month, etc.
What’s most important is that you follow through on the requests and the replies and keep track. There’s a great amount of satisfaction in this kind of campaign.
Book Review Services Done for You
If you don’t have the time and do have the budget, you can use services that have gathered lots of readers and then communicate with them on your behalf to get reviews for your book.
I have used these two services below.
To access, click on “Author Services” and scroll down for “ARC program.”
A popular service and best for romance, but useful for other genre too, their calendar fills up fast. So put a deposit down and schedule your book as soon as you can. Sometimes an opening won’t be available for your genre for 6-9 months or even more.
A deposit is $20 (non-refundable) as of this writing, and the max you could pay for their service is $400. Though they cannot guarantee the amount of reviews, they do let you know how many reviews other authors in your genre averaged in the month previous to you reserving a spot.
“The fee you pay is for the service of having your book sent out to the number of readers you desire – readers that have expressly volunteered to read your book based on the information you provided…”
(From their extensive FAQ page: https://www.hiddengemsbooks.com/arc-faq/)
I’ve used their service for romance and nonfiction. My romances have received over 20 reviews. My nonfiction received 5.
Note: ARC stands for Advanced Reader Copy. Traditional publishers send these out about six months in advance of publication to generate reviewers. While the ARC name still stands, many authors use these services post publication, as I do.
While it’s free to sign up and use their services at a minimal level, you can pay up to $20 per month to run unlimited number of reviewers through their site.
This service is more of a hybrid, in that you direct your readers (via your list or promotions) to their service to review your book. And they also promote to their list of readers. The benefit to authors is their automated reminders system, support building your own ARC team, and a secure system to manage everything.
I did receive 4 reviews from this service, but only used it for a short time. Using the service required more time that I was willing to give.
Wrap Up: Your Book Can Always Find New Audiences
Whether you go after book reviews yourself or have a service do it for you, I recommend adding this strategy to your mix of marketing activities for your books to help readers find your book.
The more people can find you, the more readers you can have, the more books you can sell, and the more satisfying an author career you can have.
If you know of other services that find readers for you and manage the review service, please share in the comments. Thanks!
If you want to understand the current “dos” and “don’ts” of Amazon book reviews, go here: Understanding the Current “Dos” and “Don’ts” of Amazon Book Reviews.
For Amazon guidelines on posting reviews, go here: Guidelines for Amazon.com Community participation.
Joel covered fundamentals about getting book reviews in his article Book Reviews for Self-Published Authors: A Primer.