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Getting reviews for your book takes time, effort, and lots of patience, but it'll help your visibility and sales.
People hold varying opinions about the ethics of reviews. Paying for GOOD reviews is always unethical, while some argue that it's okay to pay for HONEST reviews, especially through big impersonal organizations like Kirkus. Whatever your opinion, here are some strategies for getting reviews without any money changing hands.
Strategies to Get Reviews
-If you belong to a critique group, many of your fellow critiquers will be happy to review, as will some of your other author friends. To avoid potential awkwardness, make it an invitation instead of a request, and don't pressure or feel offended if they don't. Some people don't like mixing friendship and reviews.
-In your e-book, be sure to add a call to action in the end matter, something like, "If you enjoyed this book, please leave a review on Amazon or your favorite book site, even if it's just a sentence or two telling what you liked. Thank you." A lot of readers don't realize how important this is, and might not think of reviewing, even if they loved your book.
-Nicely ask for reviews from the fans on your e-mail list.
-Reach out to bloggers who do reviews of books similar to yours. You can find lists of book blogs online, like on The Indie View (for Indie Books). You can also search for reviews of books in your genre. Bloggers often post their review policies and instructions about how to contact them. Most are pretty selective, but if your work looks right for their tastes, pitch them.
-Blogtour.org is a free site where you can meet up with bloggers willing to do guest posts, excerpts, blurbs, interviews, etc for blog tours. Some also do reviews.
-Participate actively in Goodreads groups. Many have sections where you can offer free books in exchange for reviews or participate in review circles and read-to-review groups. Be sure to advertise in the appropriate section, and only after you've contributed to the group by commenting on other posts.
-If you have a paperback version, do a Goodreads giveaway. People enter to win a copy and then you mail it to them. Winners of these competitions tend to review more often than random readers, especially if you mention that reviews are appreciated. Giveaways also get your book added to members' "to read" lists, which may eventually lead to sales and reviews. In your description for the giveaway, put eye-catchers first, like short quotes from reviewers or "FREE AUTOGRAPHED COPY."
-You can also run giveaways of e-books at places like LibraryThing.
-The most effective way to get good reviews, according to Jim Kukral of AuthorMarketing, is to find people on Amazon who have positively reviewed books similar to yours. Check their profile pages. If they've listed their e-mail address, you can contact them. Send a nice personalized e-mail telling them that you saw their review on such and such book, and that you've written a similar book. Ask if you could provide them a free copy in the hopes that they'd consider reading and reviewing it too. Be sure to emphasize that if they take it, they can choose not to review it, and if they review it, they're under no obligation to give a positive review. Thank them. This takes a lot of work, since you have to find reviewers that are still active and have listed their contact information, but you're more likely to reach people who will like your work and possibly become long-term fans.
-Work on getting your book out there, using the promotional strategies on this blog and any others you've learned or imagined. The more readers you have, the more reviews you'll get.
When is the best time to start looking for reviews? Before your book launches. Can you still work at it long after the book is published? Of course.
Keep plugging away. All these strategies take time, and only a fraction of the people you contact will actually end up posting a review, but every review helps—even the not-so-positive ones. And as always, keep writing!
Melinda Brasher's short story, "Stalked," about an ill-fated space colony and a camping trip that doesn't go as expected, appears in March's edition of On the Premises. Read it free by clicking above. When she's not writing, she loves traveling and plotting ways to escape the Phoenix summer. Visit her online at http://www.melindabrasher.com/
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