Need Book Reviews? Start Here
Thirteen Starting Points for Getting Reviews for your eBook or Print Book
It should go without saying, you want to tap into your own email list to see who might leave a review. Business associates, connections to groups you might belong to, etc., are perfect candidates. Amazon frowns on reviews left by relatives, so if your cousin or sister with the same last name leaves a review, Amazon might pull the review or even close your account, albeit temporarily. Even without the same last name, you want to exercise caution when asking those who are close to you to comment on your book. You might want to say something along the lines of, “Please don’t mention our relationship in the review. Otherwise, it’s better if you don’t leave a review at all.”
Personal Facebook Pages
If you’re following the 80/20 rule of eighty-percent giving and twenty-percent asking, you shouldn’t have any trouble getting reviews from some of your Facebook friends. This manifests as you commenting and supporting others eighty-percent of the time–sharing their posts, commenting positively about them, etc. When you support others regularly, it’s easy for them to support you when you ask. While some writers offer their books for free, hoping to get reviews, I price each book low enough that it’s an easy purchase and then ask if anyone who purchases will leave a review. I garner quite a few reviews this way. Not everyone sees their Facebook pages each day, so you may want to post every day for three days. Vary the time of day you post, too.
If you don’t already belong to a Facebook Group, you could be a member of a dozen in minutes. In the search bar on your FB page, type in search terms such as these: writer; author; self-publisher; book reviews. You may want to enter in search words specific to the type of writing you’re doing, such as “romance writers” or “science fiction writers.” This will provide you with plenty of groups to join. Look through them to see which groups allow you to request reviews and/or share your book. If a group indicates it’s “closed”, don’t hesitate to click the “join” button, as many sites will elect to make sure you’re a real person before they accept you. I’ve joined many “closed” sites that way.
While the sites I’ve listed below have strong participation, groups with much smaller membership numbers often provide some of the most valuable connections.
Here are some groups for starters (be aware that groups can and do disappear, so these may not be current when you check). Enter the name of each group into your Facebook search bar.
Authors, Agents, and Aspiring Writers (has a membership of over 4,800)
A Cafe for Writers and Authors (over 1,200 members)
Facebook Authors Network (over 1,200 members)
Women Writers, Editors, Agents, and Publishers (over 1,000 members)
Kindle Marketing Revelations (about 750 members)
Aspiring Authors (over 6,000 members)
Review Seekers (over 3,000 members) Note: you may list your free books on this site and then people might review them for you. You cannot request reviews here.
Long before your book launch (three months, minimum), you should be building your relationship with your social media friends. If you’ve done that, asking for book reviews here should be a snap. Just as with Facebook, LinkedIn has a number of groups you can join. Once you join a group, more groups will be suggested to you. To start, enter in your search words. Types of groups will come up and you can decide upon their appropriateness for you. Many of the LinkedIn groups require preapproval, however it’s easy to get and usually happens the same day as you make your request to join.
On both Facebook and LinkedIn, you’ll meet many fellow authors through the various groups you join. Keep an eye out for posting from authors who may not belong to any group. You’ll find them by watching postings where they talk about their book or perhaps post a purchase link. Connect with them and you may find they are willing to do a review.
If you belong to an offline writing group, this is a perfect place to gain support and many people you get to know will be willing to provide you with a review.
Paid Facebook Groups
There are a number of paid programs you can join to learn more about eBooks, publishing, and marketing. Many have FB groups that are one of the benefits of joining those programs. Members of the FB group often provide reviews for each other. (Note: review exchanges are considered taboo at Amazon, so you shouldn’t be asking to do an exchange. One does find that if you leave a solid review for another person, they are more likely to do so in return.)
But what if you don’t like the book, or it’s so riddled with errors that you can’t in good conscience recommend it? After all, your name will be on the review. Here’s where diplomacy comes in. Send the writer a private message and explain nicely what needs to be fixed in the book. Be as concrete as possible. You may want to say that as soon as those issues are corrected, you’d be happy to leave a review. Make sure you check and double-check your message to make sure you don’t come off as haughty or demeaning. A thoughtful, helpful message should be well-received. That kind of support can not only create the basis for friendship, but you never know when you might need the same kind of support. On occasion, I’ve had someone who didn’t like the fact that I made suggestions or else they ignored my suggestions entirely. That’s okay. You only have one reputation and you don’t want to be seen as someone who supports ill-conceived or poorly-written literature. Protect your integrity as a reviewer and respect the rights of others to do the same.
Paid groups are those such as Apex Authors and Page One Profits. The benefits of paid groups are that those participating have an unwritten (or, in some instances, a mandated) code to help each other out. In non-paid groups, one often has to sort through and find people who are interested in your specific book–and there are no guarantees they will review, even if you give them a free copy.
One of the most popular forums, this group was recently purchased by Amazon. Exactly how this will be used to Amazon’s benefit remains to be seen, but one can safely assume there will be some changes. A program that is followed widely is the book giveaway section. There, authors can provide a print version of their book as part of a drawing. Often there are dozens, if not hundreds, of readers who enter to win your book. GoodReads encourages those who receive a free book to write a review. For me, this hasn’t been a lucrative effort as far as the reviews go, but I have noticed increased book sales when I’ve made books available. Your experience might be different and I’d encourage you to give it a try.
Billed as the world’s largest book club, LibraryThing has a member giveaways section and you can sometimes get reviews when you give a book or eBook away there. This site could use some better navigation features, but if you work at it, you can find reviewers in your genre. I don’t have direct experience using this site for reviews, yet I know those who are happy with the reviews they’ve received.
Some forums require a paid membership, but many are free. You need to abide by the terms of the forum, so carefully read the rules before posting. Don’t be what I call a review-spammer, either. When I see someone who posts multiple times a day about his or her book, I automatically reject the idea of looking at that individual’s work because it feels like they aren’t willing to make room for anyone else. In-your-face people don’t garner affection in person, so the response on line is similar. I doubt I’m the only one who doesn’t want to deal with aggressive promoters.
To find a forum that is perfect for you, you can check out the lists at either ForumShowcase.com or Big-Boards.com (the dash between Big and Boards is needed, or you’ll go to a different site). With both ForumShowcase and Big-Boards, simply enter your keyword into the search box, i.e. “writer” or “romance writer” and you’ll come up with dozens of forums to explore. Here are a few to get you started:
Some of my nicest reviews have come from bloggers. There are many bloggers who have a good following who may be interested in reviewing your work. Enter the words “books & blogs” into your search engine and you’ll come up with many sources.
The aforementioned Goodreads also has a reviewers’ section that leads to bloggers. As you’ll find anywhere, reviewers have preferences for the kind of books they like to read and review. Sort through the listings to find the best reviewer for your genre. Don’t expect that reviewers will automatically want to review for you. Like anything else, it’s great to build a relationship first. At minimum, look back at previous reviews the blogger has done so you’re familiar with how they review. Some ask a series of questions for you to answer about the writing of the book and others simply review the book.
Author Marketing Club
At 10,000 strong, this site will certainly have someone who will be willing to review your book, though there are (as elsewhere) no guarantees. Joining the site is free.
Make sure you connect with reviewers in your genre. How do you find them? To get a list of top reviewers, go to: http://www.amazon.com/review/top-reviewers. It’s a good idea, too, to study reviews of books in your genre to see how the reviews are done. If there is a reviewer who seems to leave thoughtful reviews for a few of those books, they would be a good candidate to contact. If a reviewer is willing to do reviews, their contact information is generally listed. Hover your cursor over their name. If the name turns red, click on it and it will take you to information about that reviewer.
From Inside Your Book
It’s becoming more common that authors ask for reviews at the end of their books. If you do so, and someone leaves a review, don’t let the journey end when someone has made that effort. Although you’re after reviews, your ultimate goal should be to gain fans.
I hope you enjoy the free information below and the various resources I’ve provided. If you’d like to go deeper on the subject, I offer a quick tutorial for $9.97 where you’ll learn:
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