The Proactive Author: What We Do When We Need Book Reviews
So you wrote a book. You suffered and toiled over it and got it to publication. Time to sit back and relax, right? Not so fast. Your book’s online page looks a little bare without those shiny gold stars and comments underneath.
Book reviews not only help with SEO, making sure your book gets seen more often in Google searches and Amazon, but they can make the difference in encouraging new readers to take a chance on your product.
As authors, we know how important reviews are. Readers often need that social proof in order to make a purchase. So how can we get more and better reviews?
Ask, ask, ask
Most readers will not give a review of their own accord. For independent authors, and even traditionally published authors who now take on more of the responsibility of marketing, you have to be willing to ask. This doesn’t mean just begging your friends and family. In fact, Amazon and other review sites are cracking down on false reviews. Having the same people review all of your books will throw up a red flag. Remember, it’s not about having all five star reviews. It’s better to have a large number of varying types — though hopefully most are positive. You don’t have to resort to begging or trickery, but you do have to get comfortable with building relationships, staying engaged with your audience, and of course, asking.
Every author should have an email list. This is a great way to connect directly with the people who are already fans. As your list grows, so does the pool of people who are likely to leave reviews. Put a call to action in your newsletter. Engage directly with readers via social media. Make it exciting for your readers by letting them be a part of helping you get reviews. You could even make it a contest. Tell your email list that if you reach 50 reviews by the end of the week, you’ll give everyone on the list a special prize or discount. It’s a great way to not only get reviews, but to grow your list!
A really simple and effective tactic is to put a call to action at the end of your book. If you can get the reader’s attention right after they have finished, when they are hopefully still riveted and satisfied by your story, you just might get a few really great reviews. Leave a note for your reader, asking them to share their thoughts. It can be as simple as, “If you enjoyed the book, you can find out more about the author and leave a review at ______” This is especially effective for ebooks that can create a hyperlink that goes directly to your review page.
Outside reviewers— that is, anyone who isn’t already a part of your fan base or contact list— can be anything from book bloggers and podcasters, to top reviewers on Amazon. There are thousands of websites, blogs, and other platforms dedicated to book reviews (some for pay, others not). Even one of our Riffle Editors can be a book reviewer for you. The problem here isn’t a shortage of resources, it’s where to start! We could write a whole blog post just about book bloggers, but the main thing to remember about any outside reviewers, is to do your research. Narrow down your search by finding the people who specialize in your specific genre or niche. Find people who have reviewed books that are similar to yours on Amazon, Riffle or Goodreads. For places that take submissions, make sure to follow all of the guidelines exactly. The most popular sites are often inundated with requests, so a mistake in the submission is an easy way to get yours thrown out.
Last but not least, be generous with your own reviews! The best thing you can do for an author other than buy their book, is to leave a great review. Start with the authors you know and love. In addition to good karma, it can be a great way to build relationships with other authors. Who knows, that author might just check out one of your books and return the favor!
— Marquina (@Marquina) March 15, 2016