Securing Consumer Reviews
So, you’ve finally got your printed book in your hands after months (if not years) of painstakingly pouring yourself into it. Want people to like your work and give it positive reviews, but aren’t sure how to go about getting them? Here are a few key tips for getting readers to review your book.
You could always try the simplest and most effective, yet often overlooked, option of just asking for reviews. If you’re giving away copies of your book, directly selling your book to readers at conferences, or connecting with them at book signings, why not simply ask readers for a review? All it takes is saying, “If you enjoy reading my book, I hope you will take the time to post a brief review online at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.” By just planting that seed at the outset, you’ll have a much better chance of readers taking the time to write a review upon finishing your book.
Digtal ARCS and Giveaways
There are a multitude of reader-centric sites that can help to spread the word for your new book and build interest in potential new fans. NetGalley, Goodreads, and LibraryThing are all great sites to list an advance copy or your book or to host a giveaway on.
NetGalley is an online community for professional readers (booksellers, librarians, journalists, bloggers etc.) and a great site to list a digital copy of your ARC prior to publication to generate buzz and advance reviews.
Goodreads is the largest online community for book-lovers with a registered user base of 10 million and growing. This community of avid readers is a great place to list a book giveaway to promote discoverability and get books into the hands of readers.
LibraryThing is another great community to list a giveaway on to promote interest amongst avid book readers and librarians.
Include a Note
After your giveaways conclude, including a handwritten note to contest winners or to the recipients of your Advance Review Copies (aka ARCs or galleys) is an easy way to add a personal touch. This simple act creates a connection with the reader that will make them more apt to review your book.
Email Your Subscriber List
If you’ve built a great base of readers by sending out a regular newsletter, those readers and fans are already invested in your content as a writer so reaching out to them when publishing a new book is a definite must. By tapping into an engaged and loyal fan base of readers you greatly maximize your potential for reviews.
Utilize Social Media
Never underestimate the power of a tweet or Facebook post in reaching readers. This is another great avenue to reach new readers as well as fans who are already engaged in your content. A tweet or post letting your social media communities know that you have a new book and would love online reviews is an excellent idea as long as you don’t make your profiles a sales platform. A well-balanced social media presence in which you create a conversation with your readers and provide value for them is the key to effective online communications. As long as you maintain a good balance between information and promotion, then readers will be excited to read and review your upcoming book.
Give in Order to Receive
Another great way to garner reviews is to write reviews for other authors of books within your niche. Doing so will help build goodwill with fellow authors in your space and credibility amongst your readers as an expert in the field. Providing honest, sincere, and thoughtful reviews often elicits the same kind of reviews in return.
Consider Key Messaging
The message that you want to convey to readers when asking for reviews is that you are eager for their honest feedback, as opposed to simply seeking praise for your book. The great importance of clearly articulating this message is that it shows you genuinely care about your readers and are invested in their reading experience.
Of course, it bears repeating that you must be prepared to thoughtfully accept all the reviews you receive—good, bad, and indifferent. As the old saying goes, “any publicity is good publicity,” and that is true even of lukewarm reviews, since each one can be taken as insight into the minds of your readers. If you reflect upon your reviews and take stock of what readers are saying, that feedback will ultimately help in developing your skills as a writer. Listen to your readers—they will tell you what they want more (and less) of.
Responding to Reviews
What do you do once you start receiving reviews? The simple, but sometimes difficult to follow answer is nothing. You may thank readers who have given you a positive review if you so choose, but beyond that the rule of thumb is to be grateful for the reviews and take no action. After putting time, energy, and money into your book project it of course can be very frustrating/emotional to receive negative feedback. The instinctual reaction is to reach out to the reviewer to either inquire why they felt negatively about your book or to dispute their negative review. This is the worst action possible to take. Instead of beginning a dialog that can quickly go down a rabbit hole with a reviewer, simply let your fans come to your defense. This allows for discussion and attention around your book that will aid in discoverability, rather than attention that will frame you as an author unable to handle criticism.
There are myriad strategies for authors to use when seeking book reviews. The important thing to remember is that the process is about growing your discoverability and building a following. Not everyone is going to like your book, but those that do (your target audience) are the ones you want to be reaching anyway. So take everything with a grain of salt and enjoy hearing your readers’ feedback!