I’m not an expert on how to get reviews, but I did track down two useful blog posts that I think are worth looking into:
Ten Crucial Tips To Help You Get Your Book Reviewed by Shelli Johnson
Seeking Amazon Book Reviews? Don’t Ask Your Friends (5 Suggestions of What *to* Do) by Chila Woychik
Word of Mouth Will Always Be the Best Marketing Tool Out There
Now that I shared the links, I’m going to offer my opinion about reviews. I don’t believe reviews are as important as we’ve been led to believe. I think authors stress out way too much about getting them. You want to know the single most important marketing technique you can use to gain readers? Word of mouth by people who don’t know you. But the problem is, that is something you can’t control. That’s why it’s not a popular thing to talk about. We talk about “luck”, but you know what luck is? It’s people talking about your book and recommending them to friends. It’s word of mouth. That is the magic ingredient. You can’t buy it. You can’t spam for it. You can write the best book possible and polish it up, but ultimately, it’s out of your control.
A Lot of Readers Don’t Review Books (And I Don’t Blame Them)
There are a lot of people who don’t review books, nor do they care to. And who can blame them? Reviews are questioned. Sometimes they’re removed. If it’s a positive review, it “must have come from a friend or the author himself”. If it’s negative, it “must be a jealous author or there’s someone out there with a personal vendetta against you”. If you review a book, you’re likely to get a slew of commenters arguing with you. Since when should reviewers have to be questioned for leaving their opinion on a book? There’s no reason why a reviewer should be attacked, but I see this behavior happening at an alarming rate. So I don’t blame anyone who decides to not review a book.
Embrace a Variety of Reviews
And what kind of reviews do you want to get? Would you be happy if you get a few 1-star reviews “warning” other people not to waste time on your book? I think what authors mean when they say they want reviews, what they’re really saying is they want praise. They want reviewers to build them up in hopes of other customers being so impressed that they will buy the book. But do a slew of glowing reviews sell books? No, they don’t. They are not the magic ticket. I’ve seen a lot of books with all glowing reviews or mostly glowing reviews that don’t sell well. I’ve seen books that have a 3-star average that sell much better. Sometimes when people don’t like your books, other people are attracted to it. Yeah, it stings when you get reviews saying your book is bad and why. But potential readers who aren’t in your target audience need to know what someone else doesn’t like about your book. Why waste someone’s time if they aren’t going to be interested in the kind of book you write? There is no one book that fits every reader. The best reviews are the ones that state specifically why the person did or did not like your book. There’s no sense in glowing praise or attack. Just objectively stating the good and bad is best. So embrace the good, indifferent, and bad reviews. A balance will serve you better than 100% praise.
Let Reviews Come In At Their Own Time
I do see value in having book reviewers reviewing your books. They have an established presence and are known for reviewing a variety of books. So I think contacting them (and going by their guidelines) is a good idea. But I wouldn’t stress trying to have X number of reviews within a month of publishing your book. Let reviews build up naturally over time. I think having them trickle in here and there will benefit you in the long run. I know some people are in a hurry to sell books so they want as many reviews as possible in a short amount of time, but there’s value in being patient. Building a business takes time. While there are a couple of authors who become big successes within a year, realistically, the odds are stacked against you. Slow and steady still pays off.
Anyone else have tips to offer on getting reviews or ways to think of reviews?