Can And Should You Ask For Reviews?

Lately it came up in a writer’s discussion group I belong to on Facebook about whether or not it was considered acceptable to ask friends and family for reviews. One author, who was new to the group, had written a novelette and published it on Amazon, but he hadn’t received any reviews for it yet. He was considering asking for reviews from people he knew, but he was afraid it would come off as tacky or as rude to ask for a review.
The consensus of the group seemed to be that asking for reviews wasn’t a bad thing. In fact, several of us had already done so and had received reviews that way. What mattered, we believed, was how you went about asking for a review. Asking in a nice manner, such as saying, “If it’s not too much trouble, after you’ve finished reading my book would you write a review for it?” is perfectly acceptable and is much more likely to garner a positive response for both you and possibly your book than if you said something like “Give me a review or I won’t ever do anything nice for you!” Remember, people are taking time out of their hectic schedules to read your book, which they are under no obligation to read even if they know you. In a way, they are doing you a favor, and the review is like an extension of that.

However, if you’re still uncomfortable with asking people for reviews, try reviewing the works of authors you are friendly with. If you read their work and you write a review of it, positive or negative, they may want to reciprocate by reading your work and then writing a review of their own. I know a few authors who have received reviews or the promises of reviews that way.

And if you are still uncomfortable, think about it this way: most publishing houses actually pay magazines and newspapers to have their critics read their books and write a review of them. Compared to having to gather up the fees to pay a critic to read and review your work in even a small circulation magazine, asking for a review from some friends or family isn’t too difficult, is it?

25 Comments

  1. Justin says:

    I usually say something along the lines of “If you really liked this story I’d love it if you left a review on Amazon (or where ever).” Or if someone tweets me saying they really enjoyed the story I may suggest they leave a review. Still working on the best angle to use that works for me. 🙂

    But I never ask family because an Aucoin reviewing another Aucoin looks fishy.

    1. I agree witn you on both points.

  2. Katie Cross says:

    I hope it’s acceptable, because I plan on it! Actually, you’re right. It is ALL in the presentation. I personally do not feel like it’s bad form to put it the way you did (the first time:). Alot of people can appreciate how important that is to a book, I think.

    Swapping with author is also helpful too. I’ll review yours if you review mine! I’d totally do that. Also, helping other people market their book will definitely motivate them to help you, I think. I’ve seen that a lot as well.

  3. Just make sure you review the reviews. I would never edit or censor ones unfavorable but don’t have to include them.

  4. Cate Russell-Cole says:

    Family may not necessarily be a wise choice… Especially if they aren’t writers and just don’t “get it.” I would be very cautious. With social media such as Facebook, readers doing a little snooping can see where you’ve stacked the odds in your favour.

    1. I’ve never thought of that, but you do have a point. Thanks for your feedback.

  5. The problem with this is that Amazon is cracking down on reviews from family and friends. There’s been a huge uproar over this for the past year because some people don’t believe family and friends will give positive reviews only because they know the author, not because the book deserves it. I know it’s a sad situation where we have to question who reviews our books, but I’d err on the side of caution and not have family or friends review the books.

    I wouldn’t set out to do a review swap with an author. Now, if you review an author’s book and they decide (with no prompting from you) to review yours, then I think that’s okay. I mean, they opted to do it. There is a question from some people on whether that is a good idea, but I think as long as there was no “I’ll review your book if you review mine” exchange, then it’s not like you asked for it.

    Instead, I suggest offering a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The people have to disclose on the review that they received the book free in exchange for a review.

    I know it’s hard to find reviews when you’re starting out and I understand the politics behind asking for reviews is also a pain, but with all the uproar about reviews over the past year, I think it’s best to err on the side of caution. The atmosphere just isn’t the same as it was when I started self-publishing ebooks back in 2009. It seems that authors have to walk a fine line these days.

    1. Thanks for the feedback Ruth. I’ll have to keep that in mind from now on. I had no idea Amazon has been doing that to authors. Now I know for the future.

      1. It’s only been in the past year that this has been an issue. Before then, no one thought anything of it. I don’t know who started complaining about it, but they got their wish and now authors are guilty until proven innocent. It’s like walking on egg shells. Things were much easier two years ago.

        1. I’ll take your word for it. I’ve only been self-publishing for a year. But I bet it was much easier when self-publishing first took off.

  6. kd says:

    I, too, would caution against family reviews. I once got an unsolicited amazon review from a friend of a niece, and she blurted out in the review that “the author is my friend’s aunt”. Uhhhh…

    Storycartel.com is a fairly new outfit that coordinates free-book-for-honest-review campaigns by authors. I had a good experience with them earlier this summer – they’re worth a try.

    1. I’ll have to check that website out. Thank you.

  7. I don’t see anything wrong with asking other authors for reviews. Personally, I don’t–but then, I don’t aggressively market my books, either.

    1. Every author has their own preferences. You seem comfortable with yours.

  8. I’m a reviewer and honestly i love when people ask for reviews.. but the other side of that coin is that I make it a point to write a review for EVERY book I read, whether they want a review or not 🙂 Good practice when you’re in the business of doing reviews.. the more you’ve done, the better your list of clientele! Free books are my lifeblood.

    1. What sort of books do you review?

      1. a lot of different categories, but my main one is anything romance. i also do a lot of teen/paranormal/fantasy/science fiction etc

        1. You’d might like my novel Reborn City when it comes out in November.

          1. well when it does, let me know and send me a synopsis 🙂

            1. I will. Your screen name is easy enough to remember, so it shouldn’t be a problem. I look forward to November.

  9. I recently reviewed a history book on the Civil War and Canada in my blog, posted it to Amazon and such. I was surprised to get an email from the author afterwards thanking me for the review.

    1. I’m not surprised. A lot of authors, especially self-published authors, rely on reviews for their sales. And depending on the reviewer or the author, it is possible to find one or the other and send them a message. It’s how I found the author of a book that was the basis for the movie “The Possession”.

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    1. Thank you very much! And thank you so much for your support!

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