As pretty much every author knows nowadays, reviews are essential to your book’s success. But they’re one of the hardest things to get, apart from newsletter subscribers! When you find your book stuck at 3 or 4 reviews, it can be hard to build to a more respectable number.
First you want to aim at getting 20-30 reviews, at which point browsers start to take your book a bit more seriously. At 50 reviews, Amazon may or may not begin promoting your book to other readers. And at 100 reviews, your book starts carrying some serious weight.
Here are the most effective ways to get reviews, from best to worst:
- Get together a launch team (as many people as possible) who will read your book before publication and leave a review right when it’s released.
- Pros: This is the best way to get a large number of reviews…and to gain momentum for your book at its release.
- Cons: You have to know people who are willing to do this for you. This is where networking with authors comes in handy–join groups on facebook such as Pat’s First Kindle Book and Aspiring Authors, start participating long before your book’s release date, and provide as much helpful input as possible.
- Set up a pre-release notification list, and provide incentives for those who leave reviews. Basically, this means getting people to sign up to know as soon as the book is available. These people will download the book at its launch, and will (hopefully) review it afterwards. If you provide an incentive, such as a free paperback or a free audio copy, to those who leave reviews, the number of reviews will skyrocket.
- Pros: You’ll get the email addresses for anyone who signs up, so you can send out reminders and nudges to download and leave reviews. Also, you can add them to your mailing list when the launch is finished.
- Cons: This could end up costing quite a bit of money, if you have a large number of people on your list. Also, unless you have a very large and active social network, you won’t get a huge number of people on your list.
- Request review swaps with other authors. You can check the World Literary Cafe website’s “read and review” forum to find authors who have requested review swaps, or connect with authors on the ARC to ARC facebook page.
- Pros: Authors are always interested in getting more reviews, so you should should find a number of people interested in participating.
- Cons: It takes a long time to read and review a lot of books; this should never be your first review-garnering strategy, unless your book’s launch has fallen short.
- Email bloggers to request reviews. Check out the Indie Review list for around 200 blogs willing to review self-published books, and read through the guidelines for each one carefully before submitting.
- Pros: Bloggers can add to your visibility when they post a review on their page, especially if they have plenty of followers.
- Cons: It takes a LONG time to get through the entire list, and in my personal experience, only three of the 30 bloggers who promised to review The Natural Order actually got around to it.
There are other strategies, such as paying for services that put your book in front of readers willing to leave an honest review in exchange for a free book (like NetGalley and Choosy Bookworm), but I haven’t tried these yet. If you have, I’d love to hear from you!
What strategies–successful and otherwise–have you used to get reviews?