First, there is no secret that book reviews sell books. Most readers at least scan the back cover before purchasing a book. The more reviews you gather, the more general public awareness grows of your book. Greater awareness directly translates to better sales. I have been asked so many times about how to go about getting reviews. Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula. There may be the magic of being in the right place at the right time for the right reviewer, but other than that, securing reviews takes work. And that’s the first secret. Be willing to take risks, do the research, and repeat.
The second secret is to separate yourself from the crowd of authors clamoring for reviews. Be professional with your presentation of an excellently produced book. Use the established guidelines, but if you are willing to be authentic and original in your approach, you will gain those reviews.
Having said all that, here are some basic steps you should take:
- If you are a fiction author, define what is the central theme or message to your book? One of our authors wrote a Sci-Fi book similar to Divergent, which translates to girl power and fighting back. Another one of our authors wrote a historical fiction novel, and was able to tie medieval violence to the racism and bigotry happening now. Use that theme to find friendly reviewers, bloggers, or book clubs.
- This may sound awkward, but ask family and friends to help you by writing a review. One of my dear friends said, “What are friends for, if not to ask for help?” No one is under an obligation to help, but most people will help if they can. Any family member who has purchased more than $50 of items on Amazon can leave a review. Anyone can leave a review of your book on Goodreads. Every review counts.
- On Goodreads there are book clubs and forums. Search for a book club on girl power or on medieval history or whatever is your theme. Research that forum and then participate.
- Go to your local library. Give a reading and a talk. The librarians love local authors. The library will mention your book in their newsletter. That mention counts as press.
- On your social media, Facebook, Twitter, your website, offer a limited-time special to give free eBooks to anyone willing to leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads.
Once you have gained some reviews on your website or Facebook page, your book has some public validation, and you are ready to take the next steps. But first create some basic information to send them: your bio, some interview questions, and a cover letter. Contact anyone first with a query:
- If you are looking for prepublication magazine reviews, plan ahead. These magazines want to consider your book 3-4 months ahead. You will need advanced reader copies (ARCs) to send them. You can print them Print on Demand or use a reliable galley printer.
- Research local and regional papers and magazines. Who reviews books? What books do they review? Who is the reviewer, and what is their contact information?
- Research print magazines or online e-zines that cover your topic. Find out who reviews what and send them your information.
- Review other authors’ books you admire. Once they see your name as a reviewer, they may be open to reviewing your book also.
- Write a blog about your theme and book or do a video blog (vlog). Once you have a backlog of material, you will be attractive to other bloggers. Offer to exchange blogs.
The next bright, shiny book and their review will be coming up tomorrow. So what will you do to compete and keep growing awareness of your book? Are you willing to keep working for those reviews, creating contests, researching for your next step? If not you can hire a publicist to secure those reviews, or pay for reviews in excellent publications like City Book Review.
© Mari Selby, August 2017
MARI SELBY founded Selby ink in 1998 after working for a small publisher where she was successful in improving their sales from 20,000 books to over 100,000 books in one year. Prior to being a publicist Mari was a family therapist in private practice for almost 20 years.