Friday, 5 September 2014

5 Ways to Get Book Reviews

Let's assume that you have the next great novel that has the potential to become an overnight success for the purposes of this post. Negative reviews can and will reflect upon other novels under your name, so when asking for reviews, make sure that the content you are providing is the best you are capable of producing - your reputation will thank you for it. Use editors, beta readers, proof-readers, and cover designers when necessary. Just because we "can" self-publish doesn't mean we can't be as good as authors who are traditionally published - or better.

Book reviews are a HUGE part of a self-publishing/indie author's marketability and internet presence. Reviews posted to sites such as Amazon, Goodreads, Shelfari, Smashwords, etc., are essential to building a rapport with readers you are propositioning, which is what happens whenever you publish - a reader clicks on it (thumbnail picture, link, etc.), studies the cover, reads the blurb, and if you're lucky, checks out excerpts, if available. Is it important that your book looks good? Edited thoroughly? YES.

But good content aside, how is a reader going to know they should buy a book when they don't know the author enough to compare previously read books against?



REVIEWS!

STAR RATINGS!                          
                                 WEB PRESENCE!                

READERS.

It all comes down to your readers, and what they have to say about your book - these are your reviews. At its core meaning, reviews (for books) are personal opinions in written or spoken (vloggers anyone?) form. This can be as general as "I like it" to a simple rating (Five Stars, tenths, etc.), to weighing specific criteria judged separately and then average for an overall score/opinion. The latter is my personal favorite as it breaks a review into various parts, leaving an author with an idea of what works and what they can improve on.

Image Courtesy of Jeroen van Oostrom at Freedigitalphotos.net 
Essentially, word of mouth is prime i.e. "all author's want this", but what if someone tells someone else and that person shares with yet another person about this oh-so-dreamy book, and there are no reviews when they go to purchase the book online? Some will chance it, if they trust the source. But many readers look for books on sites such as blogs, sites dedicated to book promotions, e-zines, the sidebar on Facebook, or even Twitter. They subscribe to free book dailies or bargain books delivered straight to their email, and that's great. The list is endless, really, but be careful you don't throw all your efforts into small sites (like this one) for ALL of your marketing. 

Without a review, most readers won't follow through with a purchase - even if it is free. The cover might entice them to read the except, if provided, or they'll download a free book because of the cover (or because it's free), but the book will sit in their ereader until they need to make room. For all books that are downloaded, you might receive one review for every hundred.

So how do you get reviews?

1. Look for blogs and promotional sites to help launch your novel and provide reviews - google blog directories to look for lists of available sites for your genre of writing, and then read the review policy for the ones that interest you, following any and all rules outlined before making a review request. Socialize with other authors. Often they are willing to swap reads, but be careful that you aren't swapping "reviews" i.e. just because they gave you a five-star rating doesn't mean you have to do so in return, and vice versa. Many sites will offer reviews in exchange for an ebook/paperback/hardcopy, either before publication, after, or both.

2. You can pay for reviews, and some do, but your pocketbook would be better used for listings on popular blogs and websites with higher traffic to increase your visibility.

3. You can join critique sites such as Wattpad, Authonomy, Figment, etc., and receive reviews from internet readers in mass proportions of all ages, locations, ethnicity, and interests. While it is true that you should pick your audience, having a well-rounded opinion never hurts. Who knows? Maybe you'll convert a die-hard historical romance buff into a YA Fantasy fanatic who lives for their new-found book boyfriends. At worst, you'll receive a not-too-positive review. Just remember that reviews are but one opinion, and if someone who hates YA Fantasy is reading it, they are probably just looking for a place to rant and someone to pick on.

4. Ask family or friends, though this tends to be a controversial topic as they are less likely to give you an honest review, especially if it is one that should be unfavorable but isn't because they don't want to hurt your feelings.

5. Build a following with blogs, websites, and social media before you publish. By the time the exciting release date for your novel comes around, you have built-in readers and other people just like you who are willing to promote your hard-earned efforts based on their trust of the content you've displayed on their blog or website! Just remember your brand - if you blog about cook books, your readers are going to be in for a big surprise, and major disappointment, when you publish a book about werewolves.

So now you know what reviews are and a few ways to get them, what else can reviews be used for? Find out in my next post: 5 Ways to Use Book Reviews.

Do you have another suggestion? I'd love to hear what methods you've used to get book reviews for you novels!

Sasha Leigh