Monday, March 23, 2020

5 Tips for Scoring Book Reviews in 2020

All authors know the importance of book reviews. If someone ends up on your book page, scrolls down to the review section, and finds proof that other people have read — and, ideally, enjoyed! — your book, you are far more likely to turn them into a reader, too. However, when it comes to reviews, your mantra shouldn’t be “if you build it, they will come." You might have written the best book ever published, but if you’re not willing to put in some legwork, you may find yourself without a single review. To that end, we’ve got five tips for scoring book reviews!

1. Consider buying them--ethically!

Book reviews from vetted critics are not exactly the kind of things you just happen upon. Most of the time, indie authors have to pay for such reviews. However, when it comes to the price tag, there’s a wide range. For instance, an editorial review from a trade magazine like Kirkus Reviews will cost you $425. An editorial review from trade mag Publishers Weekly costs $399 (if you’re a self-published author, you’ll need to submit through their Booklife platform). Or you can seek out a more cost-friendly review from a platform like Reedsy Discovery, which charges $50 per submission. 😊 Whichever option you choose, a review from an established magazine or service is a great investment, and can be used in your Amazon listing or website to give your book a boost of credibility.

2. Don’t forget the power of word of mouth

One marketing tip indie authors are more commonly turning to is to include a message at the back of your book, encouraging readers to head to your Amazon page and leave a review. You should make sure not to be too pushy in your approach, and to include this ask in the back matter of your book — not the body. You don’t want to bombard readers with review requests before they’ve even had time to fully process the end of your book.

3. Run a giveaway

You can’t pay a reviewer to give your book a positive review. This kind of exchange isn’t allowed on Amazon, and they do their best to ensure the review sections of books are as transparent as possible. That being said, running a free book promotion or giveaway is an excellent way to get copies of your books into the hands of many different readers who then might be prompted to leave a positive (or negative — it’s part and parcel of becoming a published author!) review of their own volition. To run a free book promotion on Amazon, you will need to be enrolled in KDP Select — a program in which authors grant Amazon exclusive rights to sell their book in exchange for access to a number of marketing tools. You can learn more about KDP Select and whether it’s right for you here! Another option is to run a giveaway using one of the many platforms that allow you to do this — such as Goodreads or Instafreebie. According to Indiereader, “more than 40,000 readers enter a giveaway every single day.” Chances are a large portion of those readers are also happy to leave reviews on books they enjoy!

4. Turn to book bloggers

There are tons of book bloggers out there who accept submissions from indie authors. In fact, at Reedsy, we have a directory of over 200 of them. When it comes to seeking reviews, not all book blogs are created equal. Some will be much more likely to review your book than others. So whether you’re consulting a list or scouting them out on your own, you should do your research to determine what blogs are best for you. Here are a few things to keep in mind while you do so:
  • Are they currently accepting submissions? If not, the answer is easy: on to the next!
  • Do they cover your genre? It’s a waste of both your and the blogger’s time to pitch a book that’s outside the genres they focus on. Book bloggers rely on dedicated fans and often specialize in one or two specific genres. If their niche is reviewing romance novels, the chances that they will throw science fiction into the mix is low — because it’s clearly not their realm of expertise, and they won’t want to throw off their readers.
  • How active are they? If they haven’t posted since 2003… you can safely refer to the first bullet point. That being said, you also don’t want to work hard to get featured on a blog that posts so often that your review ends up being a needle in a haystack. If a book blogger is posting once or twice a week, that shows consistency and the chance for each of their reviews to have their fair moment in the sun.
  • How big is their following? The more the merrier, right? Well, yes and no. It’s certainly not a bad thing to score a review on a blog that gets tons of traffic. But that doesn’t mean you should turn your nose up at blogs with smaller followings — as sometimes those smaller blogs come with a tight-knit sense of community and trust.

5. Capitalize on the reviews you’ve already received

Here’s the thing about book reviews: they often feel like a catch-22. You need readers to score reviews — but it’s tough to get readers without reviews. So when positive feedback does start to roll in, use it to get even more! Here are a few suggestions for doing just that:
  • Add a review excerpt to your book’s synopsis on all of your different book and sales pages — Amazon, Goodreads, everywhere. Ideally, the excerpt will be from an editorial review. But hey, you’ve got to work with what you’ve got, so if you haven’t scored one of those yet, use a shining reader review.
  • Add positive reviews to your author website.
  • Add a very concise and effusive line to your book cover — in this case, it should really come from an editorial review.
  • Share positive reviews on social media.
  • Include lines from positive reviews in any promotional material you create.
  • If you’re querying an agent, you know the drill: reference a positive review!


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

All good and easy ways to get reviews!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great tips. I'm going to look at your list of book review bloggers to find ones to connect with. Thanks so much!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

There are a dozen or so really good lists of book bloggers out there - and thousands and thousands of reviewers on those lists.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lee - thanks for these tips and ideas ... lots of books to read ... look after yourself and take care - cheers Hilary

Pat Hatt said...

There are some great lists to get book blogger reviews indeed. Those so called editorial reviews though, watch who you get to review, as some of those are just rip offs.

Juneta key said...

Great tips Lee.

Ingmar Albizu said...

Thanks for the good advice, Lee.
You explained it really well. You almost make it look easy.
Of course, writing a great novel people are excited to review should be the ultimate goal.
Do you want a tip I heard at the Philadelphia Writers Conference from an agent? Write a book that is quotable.
She stated agents look for books that are quotable.
Indeed, we love to quote great lines from films all the time. A book that is highly quotable allows itself to be adapted to memes and social media posts.
Happy writing, everyone.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Excellent tips!

Jemi Fraser said...

Great tips! And timely as I've got my 1st book coming out next week - thanks!! :)

cleemckenzie said...

Reedsy always comes up with some great suggestions. Hope they help.

Sumer Madaan said...

Hi Lee,
These are really great tips.

Tyrean Martinson said...

These are all awesome tips for getting and using reviews!

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pagesforthoughts said...

Cool list! I'll add some comments based on about 5 years of personal experience with author/publisher requests:

Many blogs, including mine, have review policies listed. It is important to read them before submitting a request- I cannot tell you how many times I get submissions and questions that are written clearly in bold! Also, try to make it as convenient as possible, including links to Goodreads or Amazon if there, as well as release date, and short summary.

Also, I will emphasize that before widely publicizing the book, it is always beneficial to gain another person's eyes beforehand. Peer editors, whether a friend, coworker, or parent, is SUPER important for not only catching typos (Yep, I've caught quite a few;), but for helpful feedback in general. It is MUCH harder to edit yourself.

As far as the "Insecure" part in the title, I will say that more often than not, your writing is often much better than you think it is! (I'll write a sonnet that I think is trash but yet a friend or teacher finds it and is blown away)


Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Wow, your post definitely attracting some interesting comments. LOL.

I think your list is excellent, Lee. It makes my head spins, but that's a relatively normal response with any marketing ideas.

Computer Tutor said...

Really good suggestions. I'm struggling with this right now as my numbers drop. I'd thought they might go up but probably it's because of visibility. You've given me some good suggestions.

Ornery Owl of Naughty Netherworld Press and Readers Roost said...

I review books as well as doing my own writing, and one of the things that put me off of doing independent reviews was authors contacting me via email to kvetch about my review. Interestingly, every author who did this was male, and I had even given a very positive review with a few little quibbly bits to one of them. I was put off of ever reviewing one of his books again after that. These days I only do reviews through Online Book Club, because the authors can't contact the reviewers directly.
One of the most gracious authors was a young woman whose book I had no choice but to give a low rating. However, I made sure that she knew that I felt her ideas were good. The story, however, was convoluted. It switched tenses and points of view repeatedly. If she paid for the editing job or lack thereof, she would have been within her rights to lambaste the editor. Even though I only gave her book two out of five stars, she was appreciative of my thoughts. I still feel bad about that review. She seemed like a real sweetheart, and I hope she took my advice and kept writing while seeking the assistance of beta readers to ensure that her work was polished enough to tell her story the way it deserved to be told.