How to get reviews is a familiar dilemma for indie authors—they are critical for your books' success. We asked our Author Branding expert, Dave Chesson, for his top strategies which he shares below.
Think about the last time you went to buy a book.
Did you pick your new read based on a catchy title and attractive cover art?
Maybe. But more than likely you also did a bit of research. You probably went into what genre the book is, basic plot description, character profiles, etc.
AND… I bet you read some reviews.
Because let’s face it… if a book has nothing but negative reviews, why waste your money?
Reviews are crucial to your book’s success. Having many positive reviews can be one of the main driving factors of a book’s sales. But if your book has many negative reviews, you may not sell very many books at all.
And what if you have no reviews?
Well, it’s not as bad as having a bunch of negative reviews, but it can still cause you to miss out on some sales. Simply put, reviews are necessary.
Getting reviews, however, is a bit like the chicken and egg conundrum. You need reviews to sell books, but you need people to read your books to get a review. So where can you start?
There are two primary paths you can take when gaining reviews—active and passive. Let’s talk more about each path with some examples.
Active Ways to Get More Reviews
Let’s start by looking at some proactive things you can do to bring in more reviews.
Give Away Advance Reader Copies
When it comes to active reviews, this is one of the best ways to get them. As a matter of fact, even if you’re brand new to self-publishing and have a small following, there are still ways to make this work.
Essentially, you send ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) out prior to your book’s release to specially picked readers. In return, you ask them for honest input on the book itself and to leave a review.
[Read this post for tips and tools to help you share your ARCs with potential reviewers.]
Advance reader reviews are among the best ways to get positive reviews. And that’s because you get to choose the reader. You don’t tell them what to say in their reviews. But you can look for people who are likely to be interested in your book’s ideas.
And if you’re having trouble finding a large enough advance team, there are programs available to help you out, such as NetGalley. NetGalley is a respected book review system that helps you find advance readers who can provide honest reviews.
The reason why it’s so trusted is because you aren’t paying for reviews. You’re paying to have your book listed and you’ll take whatever may come. NetGalley can also get a little pricey, but there’s a special discount I discuss in this article.
Run a Book Promo
Generally, the more sales you make, the more reviews you’ll receive. How can you boost your sales? By discounting your book and temporarily listing it on a book promo website. By selling some copies of your books at a big discount to gain those book promo reviews, you’ll have a better chance of selling more books later at full price. You can think of holding book promos as investing in the future sales of your work.
There are many paid and free platforms out there dedicated to helping you hold promotions for your book. These platforms already have readers looking for new discounted books. What they need are books to offer, which can be a great opportunity for authors.
According to Mark Dawson, you will receive on average 1 review per 100 sales. So it’s not a bad idea to list your book on several promo sites as you try to rack up sales and reviews.
Ask Your Mailing List
Generally, your mailing list is a great place to find people who have read your books. Put out a call once in awhile asking people to review the books they’ve read. Some authors have a hard time being this direct, but when you’re speaking to your true fans, there’s no need to be bashful.
Ask on Social Media
Another place to find readers is on social media. On sites like Twitter, you can see who is talking about your book and personally ask them to leave a review.
Just something like, “Hey! Glad you love the book! Thanks so much for reading! Would you mind leaving a review on whichever platform you purchased it? Cheers!”
How to Prime Your Book for More Reviews
When it comes to getting reviews, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of proactivity. What I mean by that is there are ways to prime your book for more reviews right from the start. Here’s how.
Include a Call To Action Within Your Book
The first passive approach you take should be in the book itself. Immediately after your final page, you can insert a CTA (Call To Action) encouraging your readers to actually go and leave a review at whatever retailer they bought it.
“First of all, thank you for purchasing this book [Your Book Title Here]. I know you could have picked any number of books to read, but you picked this book and for that I am extremely grateful...
I want you, the reader, to know that your review is very important and so, if you’d like to leave a review, all you have to do is click here and away you go. I wish you all the best in your future success!”
This does require you to have multiple versions of your book for this CTA as you can’t plug a competing retailer in your book. But, if you’re digitally publishing your books, it shouldn’t take too long to change retailer names if you’re going wide. And if you’re just sticking with Amazon, it’s even easier.
Just be sure when writing your CTA, you make it abundantly clear on how someone can actually leave a review. You don’t want somebody who’s not very tech-savvy to be eager to give you a good review but not be able to do so because they can’t figure out how.
Passive Social Media
The next passive approach you should take is via social media.
Now, many people think that social media is strictly an active platform. That does kind of make sense. In order to be successful on social media, you need to actively be social.
But, there are some elements on social media that take a more passive route to allow you to reach your readers.
And probably the best way to do this is through Facebook and Twitter pinned posts.
Pinned posts are posts that you create and assign to sit at the top of your page above all other posts—even the latest ones. This means the first thing a reader will see when he/she visits your page is that pinned post.
Use that to your advantage. Put something along the lines of, “Your reviews are amongst the most important things to me as an author. If you really enjoyed this book, please head over to <Insert Retailer Here> and share some love! Thanks!”
Your author page is usually followed by true fans instead of random readers. And this can be a great way to rack up some really positive reviews.
Reviews in Review
When it comes to selling your book, there are few things more critical than getting good reviews. They can literally make or break your book’s success.
And yeah… you’re probably going to get a few negative reviews. It happens. You can’t please all of the people all of the time. That being said… There is one major thing you need to avoid.
DO NOT PAY FOR GOOD REVIEWS!
This has become an issue with some authors, leading their books to be pulled from retail sites. Doing so is a direct violation of Amazon’s (and others) Terms of Service.
So, stick to these above the board methods and watch your reviews grow.
Note: Dave is currently offering unlimited lifetime access to those who purchase Publisher Rocket 2.0 (the newly upgraded and expanded version of KDP Rocket). Check out all the features HERE, and if you like it as much as we do, grab it before it reverts to a monthly subscription.
(In the interest of transparency, Dave is one of a small select group of BW trusted affiliate partners who offer outstanding products and services to help our members succeed in a highly competitive market and from which we may derive a referral commission. If you like what we do here at BookWorks, you can help support our mission by using this link if you decide you want Rocket in your marketing pocket: http://bit.ly/bwrocket2.)