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 mouthOne 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 giveawayYou 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 bloggersThere 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 receivedHere’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!