person holding white and brown newspaper

This is a real quick post on getting more book reviews, biggest it’s one of the biggest obstacles to publishing success – especially since Amazon has started deleting hundreds of reviews from friends or family. It’s tempting to give up and throw in the towel, but you NEED at least 10 reviews before you even think about sales or marketing, even if Amazon has a duty to protect its consumers by removing biased reviews.

SO: How to get book reviews?

First, you need to build a list of potential reviewers. These should be people who actually like your genre or subjects, who regularly buy and review similar books on Amazon. This is important, because if you send your book to a bunch of people who don’t read your genre, it’ll screw up your also-boughts and hurt long term visibility.

Look at the top 20 books in your genre, go through the reviews and see if they have a website or email to contact them. Do this with multiple categories. Make a list of the top 10 most similar books, which have lots of reviews and are selling well. Then Google those titles + “review” and go through the first 5 pages of Google to see who’s reviewed them. You can also find reviewers on Goodreads.

What you want to do is offer a free review copy to as many potential readers as possible. I give out several hundred ARC copies of each new release. I don’t expect or demand readers review (you can’t actually trade a free book “in exchange” for a review – reviews with that language will get deleted). All you can do is let lots of readers read for free, try and build a relationship with them, maybe check in once or twice. This is a little dangerous because you’re cold-calling, but if you write a short, polite email and a link to a free book, few people will be annoyed (some will be grateful!)

What you don’t want to do is, ask friends or family if they’ll review, then send them a paperback copy, then nag them into posting (even though they didn’t read it, didn’t like it or don’t know what to say about it). I prefer building a big list with book giveaways and Facebook ads, and offering them a free copy. Now that I have a platform, I keep my ARC copies limited to the real fans in my private FB group, which increases the free books to reviews ratio (before I would give out 500 copies for 25 reviews… now I can give out 50 for the same number).

50% review rate is actually really high. You’ll be frustrated if you get angry because only 6 out of 10 reviewers posted a review after they said they’d take a look. Sometimes not reviewing is an easy way to say “I didn’t like it.” Don’t pressure them too much.

One last thing: you can gift, or use giveaways, or a free book campaign to give copies of your book straight to reviewers so they show up under verified reviews, which may be important going forward. Otherwise, I usually use BookFunnel, but those won’t show as verified and might get deleted.

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