Not just a handful, but lots of reviews!
They are crucial, not only for Amazon’s algorithms, but also when selling through other online retailers, such as Kobo, Barnes&Noble or Waterstones. Polls revealed that 70% of book buyers are paying attention to reviews before they make their purchase. They don’t read the reviews necessarily, but check the numbers of reviews a book has accrued. Book reviewing, in the past a privilege of literary magazines, became mainstream, encouraged by the likes of Amazon and without any editorial controls. There is an ever-shrinking newspaper space for reviews, while the number of books published is increasing tremendously. However, book bloggers and book lovers all over the world become armchair critics at the click of a mouse.
So, how can a writer find reviewers?
- paying for reviews, Kirkus Reviews comes to mind, who charges several hundred dollars
- asking followers and friends in their Social Media network
- getting to know book bloggers and hobby reviewers
The worst method is to write an email and send it out to dozens of reviewers, without a salutation and without checking their websites/blogs carefully or reading their submission guidelines. If you would be a reviewer, would you answer a mass mail?
Always remember that book reviewers don’t do it for a living.
They often have busy lives, full-time jobs, partners, children, ailing parents and other obligations. They barely can keep up with the growing demand for reviews. Imagine if you would get an email from a total stranger, asking you to do several hours of work for free. Would you be excited?
Get to know book reviewers and bloggers.
Careers everywhere depend on networking, same with a writing career. Start making “friends” with reviewers, long before your book is finished: Search on your social media sites for reviewers, reviews, book bloggers, etc. when using the search function on top of Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook and Google+ pages. At Goodreads, reviewers are listed, so you can conveniently choose them as friends and follow them for a while, see which book genres they prefer, before you approach them.
Check out the bestsellers in your genre (in bookstores or online) and find names of reviewers. If these reviewers have a blog (and most do), comment on their articles. Offer them well-written guest blogs, geared to their topics and readership.
These are invaluable and important contacts, as those readers do not only review books, but post their reviews on Amazon, Goodreads and the like. On top of that, they often write a blog post about the books they read, which stays there for years to come. They are actually promoting those book reviews to readers and indirectly even to industry decision makers: librarians, booksellers, agents, publishers – like a publicist does it (for money). If compensated it would mean at least a couple of hundred dollars worth, what they provide you for free!
Again: It takes often months until getting a review, start early with your search.
If you write non-fiction, it’s a bit more difficult, as most book reviewers prefer fiction books. Look for magazines that write about the same or similar topics and find out if they review books. You could also offer an article and in your intro at the end of the article, you could offer readers a copy in exchange for a review of your book. For sample, if you write about aviation safety, you search for aviation magazines, but also for history magazines, travel magazines, even more local publications where a certain incident happened in the past. Or if you write about nutrition, check out all magazines of health food stores, women’s magazines, medical magazines etc. to find out if they write reviews.
Paid book reviewers
are not hard to find, just type into Google: Book Review Submission Guidelines and you will find lots of them. The most famous:
Free book reviews
The best source are friends and followers on social media site, starting with Goodreads. Offer a print version of your book as a giveaway (you can do this several times a year). In average, half of the recipients write a book review.
But again: just don’t email them out of the blue, friend them on social media, read their blogs and get to know them, before you make an approach for a review. If they state in their submission guidelines, they will only read print books, don’t tell them to “just print out my pdf or word file”. If you have e-books only, get a couple of digital prints (bound) from a copy shop or use one of these espresso book machines, mostly located in big cities, but available online, just add the postage for delivery.
For US writers: The Midwest Book Review (free!) has contracted with Cengage Learning to provide them with electronic copies of book reviews. Cengage Learning then makes their reviews available to library systems nationwide. Read our former blog post, “How to Find Reviewers for Your Book” where lots of reviewers are listed.
If you are looking for reviews to use in your books blurb (print or e-book) send out galleys, which can be produced by espresso book machines as well, at least 3 – 4 months before your book’s launch, especially for print books, to be sure to receive it in time.
http://www.rtbookreviews.com/magazine/editorial-submissions (4 months before launch!)
http://bookpage.com/content/submission-guidelines (at least 3 months before launch!)
Another question is the quality of book reviews, not only on the internet… I think about an extremely unfair review, a good friend of mine has received from a “Librarian” at Goodreads! She wrote about a book that has amassed more than 90 percent 5-star reviews. The “reviewer wrote: “I tried to like the book, really. But I just can’t.” That’s it, this was the whole review! No description what the book is about, no mentioning of the writing style (excellent!), not about the plot, the characters, nothing. And gave it a 1-star. So much for the quality of reviews… Check out the reviews for world bestsellers and you will find some of them with more than 150 of these 1-star reviews!
And then there are those people who are downloading tons of free books on Amazon – without even checking the content, just because they can get something for free – they are also infamous for writing scalding and unprofessional book reviews. What about the writers’ competition, who could theoretically write an unfair review? In all these cases, just keep your cool, and work even harder to get more reviews to “bury” those unfair ones.
Take reviews always with a grain of salt. Sure, reviews, and lots of them, are important for writers. But keep in mind, they are always subjective! And don’t forget to thank a reviewer for their work, no matter if 3 or 3 stars. They will be more inclined to do another review for you when your next book is finished.
Kate McMillian compiled a great number of articles about book reviews, check them out.
BTW: How many books did YOU review recently???
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February 27, 2013 at 2:18 pm
I had a very disappointing response from my GoodReads giveaway, and a much better one from StoryCartel.com I do a lot of reviews of indie books, and I almost always post them on both Amazon and GoodReads. As of yesterday, I had 20 reviews on Amazon, almost all of them positive, and I haven’t paid for any of them (except a few digital copies of my novel.)
February 27, 2013 at 2:49 pm
Reblogged this on The Linden Chronicles and commented:
Fantastic information for book reviews from Doris-Maria Heilmann at 111Publishing!
AEL Data Services LLP
February 28, 2013 at 6:09 am
Reblogged this on AEL Data Services LLP.
February 28, 2013 at 4:45 pm
Always such great posts! Thanks once again for advice that REALLY helps!
March 4, 2013 at 8:10 pm
Thanks Jess! Have a great week and if you have a topic you would like to hear more about, just drop me a line in “about”
June 21, 2013 at 3:08 pm
As a children’s book author, I find your articles always helpful. Beryl
August 4, 2013 at 2:23 pm
Great article! I’m also the author of a children’s book, so getting reviews and interest has obviously been a bit difficult. I find contacting the people who’ve added your book on Goodreads is a great way to establish relationships and get reviews.
Axl Hazarika VEVO
September 24, 2013 at 3:53 pm
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