So you’ve written, edited, formatted, and done everything else required to your kick-ass book and are just about ready to hit ‘publish’ and send your words out there into the big, wide world. That’s awesome work.
Of course, that book isn’t just going to sell itself you know. It’s time to consider getting this fine book reviewed.
But how, and who by? Ahhh, all will become clear, if it isn’t already.
I would bet that most authors are also big readers. Why else would you write? Exactly. And I’d also bet that these authors-who-are-also-readers frequent the review sections of sites such as Goodreads and Amazon.
Ever scrolled down the reviews of that awesome indie book you’re reading and noticed how many state they were ‘sent a copy for an honest review’? Yeah, I’m sure you probably have. So how do you approach someone to review your book?
I’m going to have a go at explaining how I went and will continue to go about it.
I can look at this subject from both sides of the fence. A few years ago, after running out of ideas for content on this here blog, I dipped my toes into the world of book reviews. And from there it just snowballed.
Now every time I read a book I’m planning the review in my head. One quick glance at my list of posts shows that this has turned into very much a book review-heavy site.
After a while of churning out these reviews came the review requests. People reaching out through my Contact page asking whether I’d consider reviewing their book. It’s a great feeling knowing that someone has read your reviews and wants to hear from you think of their work.
At first I couldn’t believe it and was so thankful for the chance to read a book (for free) that I might have ordinarily missed somehow. But it works both ways. The reviewer gets extra traffic to their site and more exposure, while the writer hopefully makes a few more sales.
It’s win-win, or it should be.
I felt this gave me a slight advantage on how to go about approaching other reviewers about my own books. So here are my thoughts on how to get those reviews that help so much in letting your book grow in front of everyone’s eyes.
I’ve kind of gone on a bit here, so make sure you’re sitting comfortably.
Find the Right Reviewer
This sounds obvious I know. You’ve written a mushy romance story where everything turns out great in the end. Awww, it sounds amazing, and there are plenty of people who would love to read an uplifting story such as this.
But I’m guessing that blogger who craves gore-soaked depravity and bleak, dark endings probably isn’t the best person to approach. Not that they’d accept it and then write a damning review, the request would probably be answered with a ‘thanks but no thanks.’
A quick Google search will throw up many sites and reviewers who would love to read your book. But make sure you research thoroughly. Reading previous reviews on their site and checking out their About page is a sure-fire way to find out whether you’re approaching the right reviewer.
It’s also important to make sure that they’re currently accepting review requests at the time. If their site clearly states they’re closed to requests then asking them to make time for you because your book ‘is just what they’re looking for’ is more than likely going to be met with a curt reply or possibly make you the subject of an angry Tweet.
This just looks unprofessional and your name may start appearing on other reviewers’ black lists. It’s amazing how many of these bloggers know each other. So remember that.
It makes sense really doesn’t it? Your asking someone to take the time to read a whole book that they probably haven’t heard of before and then write their thoughts on it. OK they’re getting it for free but still, that’s quite an ask when you put it like that.
Acknowledging how your unsolicited email may be a little presumptuous is just good manners. And talking about how amazing your book is and how they’re really missing out if they don’t read it, is certainly not the correct way to go about it.
Describe your book, give them the blurb and perhaps a link to Goodreads and Amazon, and let them decide for themselves whether they’ll probably love it or not. If you’ve read their previous reviews you could always mention a book they reviewed that you also enjoyed, so they know it’s not just a generic email sent to everyone.
Whenever I’ve sent a request email I’ve always taken the time to write it out fully and personally. Sometimes it’s taken me all evening to send just a handful of emails, but it’s time well spent. Yeah, time is precious and could be spent working on your next masterpiece, but putting the time in to create personal emails is a great way to look the part.
Be Sure of Their Review Request Policy
It doesn’t take very long to find out the preferred contact method for a book blogger, it’s usually stated pretty clearly on their site. Some like an email, some have a contact form to fill out. Some want you to ask if they’d be willing to review your book, some say just send it anyway.
Make sure you follow their guidelines to the letter. It’s a little like submitting a submission request for a story for a magazine/site. If you don’t follow their policy then you’ll be checking your inbox for weeks with no reply.
I recently saw one author commenting on someone’s Goodreads review asking for them to take a look at their book. Ewwww, this really isn’t the way to go. This particular reviewer agreed with that sentiment and shamed this author’s actions on Twitter. It was entertaining for me and others, but none of us would be queueing up to read his work in the future I’m sure.
Don’t be that guy.
Offer Your Book in Their Preferred Format
Most bloggers’ Contact pages will share details of the kinds of books they like. They usually state the format they prefer, too. If they don’t then ask them. I’ve found most reviewers prefer hard copies of books, which is understandable. The only drawback with this is it’s going to cost you money.
Sure, if you’ve self-published on Amazon you only have to pay for the printing and delivery costs when ordering an Author Copy, but this soon adds up. Budget permitting it may be worthwhile only targetting those who prefer digital copies.
The hard copy conundrum is a tough one. To date I think I’ve spent more money on sending copies of my books to reviewers than I’ve received in sales following their reviews. Obviously I can’t back that up with stats, but I’m pretty sure it’s true.
It’s also always a good idea to have your book in a .mobi format for those who read digitally. This can be easily uploaded onto a Kindle which is perfect for those busy blogger types. Personally, I would avoid PDF format, as these do not transfer well to Kindles. The text comes out far too small and you end up reading the thing with your nose touching the screen; and my nose isn’t even really that big!
I’ve also seen other bloggers share their disgust at PDFs. Get it Kindle-fied!
Be Prepared to Wait
You may think that once the reviewer agrees to read your book that they will drop everything else and get straight on to it. Whenever I receive a request I do try and get round to it as soon as possible, but usually I’ve got a couple of books I’m excited to read beforehand, plus whichever one I’m on at the time.
If your blogger has just started The Stand then be prepared to wait for an even longer time.
Explain how there’s no rush for them to get their review done (although this is obvious) and tell them you just appreciate them taking the time to read it. Again, this is just common manners, and I’m sure all (well, most) authors already adhere to this unwritten rule. But you never know.
Some reviewers may state on their site the amount of time they usually take to read and review your book. But of course, don’t count down the days from when you send them a copy and bombard them with emails at midnight after that period has ended.
If you’ve been waiting a lot longer than expected then a polite enquiry email may be warranted. I’ve only sent two of these, and I hated doing it. I felt like I was being too impatient with them and tried my best to not sound too whiney!
It was OK, though. One hadn’t received my original email, and the other was simply snowed under with books. Neither got snarky with me, so that was all good.
Still, playing the waiting game gives you plenty of time to write that next opus, right?
Grow a Very Thick Skin
For someone putting their work out there in this unforgiving world, this kind of advice doesn’t really need to be given. But I think it’s worth mentioning. Because even if you find the right reviewer, contact them correctly, send them the format of their choice, while all the time being super-polite; it doesn’t mean they’ll actually like your book.
Some reviewers don’t publish negative reviews, and I try not to, too. Some will email the author explaining their decision on why they didn’t dig it, and have decided against posting the review because who needs a really bad write-up?
But even if the review is mostly positive but still highlights some issues the blogger had with it, take it all on the chin.
Don’t ever kick off with them. Ever. This makes you look petty, unprofessional and, above all, a prick.
Perhaps a year or so ago one author received a bad review from a horror review site I follow. On their site, under their review policy, it clearly states they will not tolerate abuse if their review is not entirely positive. Well it seems this particular author didn’t read the terms and conditions or simply thought these didn’t apply to him.
His arrogant, pompous emails were shared all over the site and Twitter, resulting in such a backlash that I’m sure he wished he’d never requested a review in the first place. Although maybe not, don’t some people love the attention? I’m not sure this kind of attention would have increased his sales, though.
So it’s never a good idea to fight back. Take a deep breath, count to ten, and tell yourself that a negative review may persuade someone else to buy your book. If I read a review that complained a book was so disgusting and depraved that it upset them and made them physically sick, I’d be ordering that bad boy before you could say ‘vomit-inducing.’
So take it all in context and move on to the next reviewer.
Remember Who You’ve Already Approached
It’s always worth writing down who you’ve emailed about reviewing your book. Personally I jot everything down in my notebook carved from human skin, because not only does it feel right and smell delicious, the practice will make sure you don’t send someone an email twice.
Again, you don’t want to look unprofessional. If someone already has your book on their TBR pile and you email them about it again, that book is going to be drowning further down that pile like a measly victim falling to their untimely demise.
It doesn’t take a second to write any of this information down.
Never Pay For a Review (Like, Never Ever Ever. Never!)
Perhaps this is the most obvious point, or maybe not. Some sites offer reviews for monetary compensation. Why would anyone ever do this? Anyone familiar with a site who charges for reviews will read their thoughts on your book with one eyebrow raised. They’re not going to completely slate the book when they’ve earned themselves a nice little payment from you are they?
The people that really matter are the readers, and the majority of book reviewers and bloggers review books because they absolutely love reading. Getting paid for something makes it sound like work. And reading shouldn’t feel like work, it should feel like leisure time.
So there you have it, my kind of guide to getting some reviews. I suppose most points are obvious, but it never hurts to have a quick reminder does it?
Thanks for stopping by, and get writing/reading/reviewing!!
And also stay at home!!!
Photo credit: dollie_mixtures on VisualHun
Good advice! Heh-heh, only a horror author would have a notebook bound in human skin. Ugh, I just gagged typing that.:-)
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Thanks for reading! I say human skin to sound edgy, its actually pink with fluffy unicorns on it!!!!
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I got a PDF book once, I converted it to Mobi using a free website, job done!!! But it definitely would’ve been easier had it been in Mobi to start with.
Like the bit about the bad reviews being good – I’ll often read something that someone hated because of something and think “actually, that sounds rather good”
*too many somethings – this would not happen in one of my reviews, honest!!!
**stayin’ at home, chillin with books……………..pretty much normal service tbh
Stay safe x
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A PDF to mobi converter??? What is this dark magic of which you speak?? Sounds easy, they think of everything don’t they?
Thanks for reading, and stay safe yourself!
I just googled something about converting, they do loads of conversions………….. I don’t do much, think I’ve done about 10 altogether and not all at once, I think maybe it may not be free if you do bulk conversions on a daily basis!
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