Tuesday, June 18, 2013

For Authors: Tips for Getting Book Reviews

Authors who use Amazon know that positive reviews are what make a e-book. And there's nothing more dismal than publishing a e-book onto Amazon and watching it sink to the bottom of indifference. Indifference? How can this be? The book you sweated over isn't worth reading? The truth is, even if your book is well-written, it WILL get lost in the tsunami of Amazon books, unless you market it. Marketing rule number one is Write More Quality Books. But rule number two is Gather Positive Reviews.

I feel ethically we should NEVER pay for fake reviews. Giving a free book in exchange for an honest review is ethically moral, but buying fake reviews crosses the moral line. I am not the only author to feel so. Check out the True Review Pledge, a website (free) dedicated to gathering Authors who take the pledge to: never buy fake reviews and never negatively review in order to hurt the competition. This is a positive step and I recommend all authors take this pledge.

You do not want to ask people to review your book if it's not ready. Make sure your book is edited for grammar and storyline! Make sure you've had Beta Readers polish it (people who read it for grammar and storyline and are willing to give you honest feedback), and that you have polished versions ready in a .pdf and a .mobi file. Reviewers will want to read it in either format.

How do you get reviews? ASK! Ask your friends and family (as long as they do not live with you) to read and review your book. Ask your Facebook friends, your LinkedIn friends--choose your social platform--and ask people you're connected with, to read and review your book.

After family and friends, it's time to ask strangers.

GoodReads: Go to Groups on GoodReads and search "Reviews" and your category of book. You will find both readers and authors willing to read and review books. Book Haven and Strictly Reviews and Read4Review are great places to start. GoodReads Authors/Readers is the group I use the most. Because I'm write children's literature, I use the Children's Fiction thread.

Author Marketing Club: I haven't tapped the surface of this group much, but I'm very impressed by the forums and the amount of people who want to read and review books. And I've been approached by two other authors for a book review exchange.

Book Blogs: This is a great group of readers and authors. I have felt very welcomed and have already learned tips about blogging--and I've been a member for only two days. So I am very impressed. Join the group Dedicated Book Reviewers and you now have a connections to more reviewers.

Visit Book Blogs

There are so many places you can find readers willing to review your book in exchange for the fun of reading it. Just remember to give back. If you gather reviews within a group, then you should also make the time to review other authors. We can all work together to lift the quality of books everywhere, by reviewing and encouraging the best books.

The Kindle Book Review (I'm on the team) is a fabulous place to get your book reviewed, if you can get into line.  This is the Author Resources page, which is full of helpful links for getting reviews (and for promotion). And if you want to Get Reviewed, click on this page.

I have to add The Indie View to this list. If you want to search for Indie Reviewers that review your genre, click here. If you want to become an Indie Reviewer, click here. I am on the list as an IndieReviewer of children's books! I searched reviewers and found five who review children's books. I will be sending out review requests today!

What is the best number of reviews? I'm going to get personal here, and tell you some of my numbers. My experience is limited to Amazon, but I will tell you that it's AT LEAST 15 reviews, and it's not 12 reviews or less. My first book, The Snake Who Wanted To Be A Horse, when it had 18 reviews, went on a KDP promotion and received over 5,000 downloads, with a high sales spillover for over two weeks, and a low sales spillover the rest of the month! That felt great! With my second book, The Elephant Who Wanted To Be A Bee, with 15 reviews, the free downloads were over 2,000 and the spillover was a week and a half. My third book, The Alligator Who Wanted To Be A Dog, went into KDP promotion for a weekend with only 12 reviews. I thought it was enough. But it wasn't! After a whole weekend, and following the same marketing procedures as before, it garnered 462 free downloads with NO sales spillover at all. Was I disappointed? Yes! But I learned that the Amazon algorithm respects reviews, and the magic number is at least 18! My first book about the Snake-Horse goes on KDP promotion the first week of July. It's up to 37 reviews and a 4.6 star rating, so I'm very interested to see how the downloads and sales spillover trend. I will keep you updated!

If you want me to review your book, and it's a children's picture e-book, then click on the tab at the top of this page (For Authors: Review Guidelines) and follow the instructions.

Happy Writing, Reading and Reviewing (which combines them both!),
~Valerie Harmon

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