Monday, June 9, 2014

Finding Reviewers for your Self-Published Novel

I love it when someone reviews my book. Be it on Amazon or Goodreads or their own blog, it is so exciting!

However, finding reviewers can be difficult, time consuming, and costly. I've given away a lot of review copies, and here are some tips and what I've found you can expect from different routes.

Politely ask buyers to review your work once they're done reading it. Now, you may or may not know who has read your book.  Other than family and close friends (and I think people can tell if a review is from your mom.), I don't like to assume that anyone has purchased my book. If, however, anyone mentions to you, "Hey, I read your book and actually really enjoyed it," say, "Thanks! I'd love it if you  left a review."

 Try a Goodreads giveaway. The main reason to do this is the free marketing. A bunch of people will add your book to their "to read" list in order to enter. Some may eventually purchase it. However, I've found that for every five books I give away through this method, I only average about 1 review. A lot of times these reviewers are very good readers, though, in that they are likely to tell people about  your work through word of mouth and place reviews on more than one site. It also provides a route to communicate with readers, as they can get in contact with you through Goodreads if they really want to. It can be a little costly, between shipping and the cost of a paper copy. I really  wish Goodreads would allow for you to give away eBooks. I would give away bunches if they did. 
You can find my author page for Goodreads here.

Try to find Blogger Reviewers. This is pretty competitive, though. Most reviewers receive a bunch of requests. It may take them days to even get around to reading your email. If they accept you, they might have a waiting list, and your review may not end up on their blog for several months. The Indie View is a useful list of book bloggers who will review self-published books (here).

Have a review request template letter. You are competing with hundreds of other authors who want book bloggers to review their work, and having an obvious form letter is a turn off to most bloggers. Do not send the exact same letter out to every blogger. However, there is also no reason to re-invent the wheel. My suggestion is to save the last several paragraphs of a review request letter so that you can just copy paste the "going to be the same every time parts." These include things like your book blurb, links to your website and where the book to be purchased, and other "about me and my book" information. You don't need to rewrite this every  time you send out an email. However, do your best to try and discover the name of the blog owner you are writing (and don't assume gender unless there is a good picture available or other clues. If you aren't sure, go informal and leave off the Ms/Mr.). Include a sentence as to why you think your book is a good fit for them. Reference other books that you know they have reviewed. Click around their blog, see what kind of books they like, follow them if you think you are going to put in the request.

Don't waste your time trying to convince bloggers your book is an exception to their rules. If a blogger specifies she doesn't read horror or only reads romance, don't waste her time and yours arguing that your book is the  one horror piece she really won't be able to live without. 

Also, make sure you read their instructions. Some bloggers have specific instructions for how to submit a request. They may want you to use a specific subject line so they can sort out the review requests from other emails. They may want word count or page count or links to Amazon.  They may want a synopsis or an excerpt. Give them what they want. Read their instructions twice, just to be sure. 

Spell check and read your email before you send it. This may seem obvious, but if you are careless in your request, it is a good hint to the blogger that you might be careless as a writer. They have options. They can hold out for authors who know the difference between their/there/they're.

Go off the lists. Yes, book review bloggers review books, but they aren't the only bloggers who do so. Craft bloggers, Mommy  bloggers, lifestyle bloggers all have been known to post occasional reviews. I find most of them in blog hops. When I join a blog hop, I click around to a bunch of blogs and scan for reviews. If they have reviews, I see if they are in my genre. If they do seem to read in my genre, I look for a contact email and offer them a free eBook. Non-book-review bloggers are less likely to have waiting lists and may not often be offered free books and so may  be more eager to get their hands on yours. Also, their readers are more diversified and may get you hearings in markets you haven't tapped yet.  Your book also stands out more on a blog that reviews one book a month. 

Request Blog Reviewers to review on Amazon as well. Yes, blog reviews are nice, but they don't sell books as much as stars on Amazon. The more reviews you have on Amazon, the more likely a first time reader will be to take a chance on your book. A lot of book review bloggers automatically post on Goodreads and Amazon, but some do not. It definitely does not hurt to request it, though. 




There is another post on this subject here, on the Mom Scribbles blog. 

As always you can check out  my books and website by clicking on the button below:

8 comments:

  1. I'm not a writer, but this is great information! I have some friends who write so I will be sharing this!

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  2. Great tips. I'm a book review blogger, but I review for several publishers and publicity companies, so it can be tough to fit in all the reviews I want to do. :) I'd recommend approaching bloggers whom you connect with, either personally (develop a relationship) or by topic. For example, I'll make space in my review schedule for a topic I'm passionate about or an author I know personally. :) Good luck!

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    1. Also good advice. A lot of my first reviewers were people I knew as a blogger before I started self-publishing.

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  3. Have you asked Tina at http://mommynificent.com/ ? I think she would read and review your books for you too.

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    1. I clicked through her reviews and she didn't have anything in my genre. I might consider it, but I try to stay with readers who I know read fantasy because they're more likely to enjoy the book.

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  4. I really agree when you talk about genres, if I don't normally read a certain genre then I will not want to have to review a book in that genre because I have no experience in that field and it truly would not help the author.

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    1. Plus they might mark you down for things that people who love that genre would like. Each genre has its own quirks. Fantasy tends to have a lot of named characters or weirdly named characters, and I'd be kind of annoyed if a reviewer knocked off a star because "there were too many confusingly named characters" or if someone doesn't like romance and put up a review criticizing the book for focusing too much on the love story.
      I think it helps that mine have a big dragon on the front. People who read them generally know what they are getting into.

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