~ Guest Blog Post ~
As every author knows, reviews are very important. Readers like to know what other readers thought of your book. One bad review can turn off a reader and several great reviews can be the deciding factor in the purchase of your book. But the elusive review is very hard to come by. Some estimates say that one in a hundred readers will leave a review. I think it’s actually worse than that. How to get reviews then? I’m about to tell you what worked for me. If you think there’s some magic trick or easy way to accomplish this, you can stop reading right now. There isn’t. It takes a LOT of hard work and a massive amount of time invested. If you’re still with me and you’re willing to put in the leg work….keep reading!
I launched my first book on January 19 of 2016 and my second book on May 15 of 2016. My first book has 44 reviews after five months and my second book already has 20 reviews after only one month. Is this good? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on who you are. But it’s a vast improvement for me. It shows I’m learning how to navigate the world of independent publishing. Both my books are contemporary romantic comedies. How then, did my second book get so many reviews in such a short time? I had to go out and find the reviewers. I had to join countless Facebook groups and spend hours upon hours contacting bloggers and reviewers. It was a giant pain in the neck. Here is what I learned so far:
–You can’t just sit back and let the readers find your book and hope they love it and leave awesome reviews. I’m sorry, but that’s probably not going to happen.
–You have to google and search and find out where the readers are for your genre and then don’t be afraid to contact the reviewers and bloggers. There are wonderful bloggers for every genre: Romance, Fantasy, Sci-fi, Horror, etc. Send a nice email requesting a review, offer to provide a copy of your book to be sent to their kindle, and give them links to your book on Amazon and a brief synopsis of who you are. Be short and polite and ALWAYS SAY PLEASE AND THANK YOU.
I tried to launch my second book and get as many reviews as possible. I offered FREE copies to readers in groups on Facebook, Reddit, and Goodreads. I got dramatically different results.
After a week, no one on Reddit showed any interest at all. After two weeks on Goodreads, I had only three people volunteer to read the book and review it. I was amazed. I was offering a free book, yet I had only three takers? I actually promoted the book in several “readers and reviewers” groups and I thought I was targeting my audience. Of the three who offered to read it, one never gave me a kindle address to send it to, one never replied to my email when I asked for her kindle address, and the third wanted a copy EMAILED to her. This set off alarm bells right away. I was offering to send a mobi copy to her kindle, but she said I should just email the mobi copy to her email instead. That makes no sense. With piracy rampant, there was no way I was going to do that. (There are a few safe ways to send review copies to readers. You can either buy them Amazon gift codes to cash in and get your book or you can send a copy directly to their kindle. With my first book, I made the painful mistake of buying far too many gift codes for reviewers. Only half of the reviewers left reviews and several of them never even cashed in the codes. It was a very expensive mistake and my book ended up pirated anyway. Expensive lesson learned.) So Goodreads yielded me nothing. That left me with Facebook. Ahh. Facebook. What started as a tempestuous relationship has turned into my addiction. I was skeptical of Facebook, but it has turned out to be an invaluable tool for me. I’ve made several author friends, joined some amazing groups, and found a treasure trove of book review Facebook pages.
Facebook is absolutely essential for every author. I did my first “Author Takeover” event last month and I offered my books as a giveaway prize. I got a few reviews that way and met some lovely people. I messaged over 100 Facebook pages and found most of them responsive and willing to review my book. As of this very moment, I sent out over 60 copies of my book and I have 20 reviews. I think this is a respectable percentage.
On a side note…of the reviewers who said they would read my first book and got gift codes but never reviewed…I did contact them after two months with a short follow up message inquiring if they got a chance to take a look at my book. I got a few replies of, “haven’t had time yet” or “The book was great, I’ve been meaning to review” but not one single person that I followed up with has left a review. This taught me that it was a waste of time to follow-up with a reviewer who hasn’t left a review. I’ll take that time and use it to contact new reviewers instead.
There are websites like Net galley where you can join for an exorbitant amount of money and have access to unlimited reviewers who will give you tons of reviews as soon as your book goes live. I don’t have that kind of money to spend and that’s not something I feel comfortable with. I’m too paranoid to give out an ARC of a book that hasn’t been published and I think it looks sketchy when a book launches and has 80 reviews on Amazon in the first day. But that’s just my opinion. I’m not running with the big dogs, so I don’t have to worry about that stuff. I’m just plugging along at my own pace.
In conclusion….don’t sit around and hope the reviews come to you. Go out and get them! Engage with your readers in Facebook Groups. Offer giveaways. Join groups that cater to your genre and offer to give free copies of your book in exchange for reviews. It works! Just look at my statistics!
If you have anything at all to add….any proven method that works for you…please leave a comment and let us know what’s been a good strategy.
As always, thanks for reading and have a great day!
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I’m a new addition to the literary world, having published my first two books this year, My Dirty Detour and Nights in the Fast Lane. I hope you’ll enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them. Oh, and I welcome all feedback with open arms 🙂
I’m happiest when reading, eating Portillos hot dogs, and patiently waiting for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.