My debut novel, ‘In A Right State‘, has been available on Amazon for about 6 months now and what no-one really tells you is that during this first 6 months you spend 99% of your time trying to get reviews.
At least, for an unknown, self-published, debut author, that’s what you should be spending your time doing because no-one knows who the hell you are so you have to try to convince others to read your book so they’ll tell people who you are and that you’re worth parting with their hard earned cash for.
There are two types of reviews; the customer review you see on Amazon and other places, and then the book reviewer review, the one you see on blogs and on Goodreads, etc. You want both.
So how do you do this?
Basically, a politely worded email asking if maybe someone would kindly donate their precious time to reading a FREE version of your book and review it somewhere….anywhere!
- Politely ask
- Give them a FREE copy of ebook
- I included the blurb so they got a rough idea what it was about
- Research who they are, their name and what genre’s they like (don’t ask reviewers to review genre’s they don’t specify in their about us/review policy page)
- No matter what their reply/review thank them for their time.
That’s all. It’s not overly complicated being polite and intelligent about it.
So who can you contact in the fruitless task of garnering reviews?
1. Family and friends
I asked my mum NOT to write a review because her surname is the same as mine, but apart from that, I would ask anyone who has read your book to write something, no matter how brief. (Warning: Don’t be surprised when MOST of your friends and family do NOT read your book, let alone write a review).
2. Beta readers
You have beta readers, right? Please say other people have read your book before you unleashed it onto the world. OK, good. Ask them, they’ve already read it…a version of it, anyway.
3. Twitter followers
Simply ask your followers and offer them a free ebook version in exchange for a review. The same goes for other social networks you’re a member of, just ask.
4. Book review bloggers
This is the big one. There are a whole load of book reviewers out there but do your research, not all of them want to read your genre. Ignore them and concentrate on those that are interested in your genre. Most of them have an About Us/Review Policy page which you should read with a fine tooth comb; obey their requests. When I emailed reviewers I also offered multiple ebook options.
This is a version of the email I sent;
Just wanted to let you know that I’ve just launched my debut, self-published novel online at Amazon here – http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00LET3E8Q. It’s a near-future adult dystopian/satire set on the South Coast of England.
You can grab a free copy here;
EPUB (4.13mb) – http://www.b3n3llis.com/free-ebook-XXXXX.epub
PDF (1.83mb) – http://www.b3n3llis.com/free-ebook-XXXXX.pdf
MOBI (2.18mb) – http://www.b3n3llis.com/free-ebook-XXXXX.mobi
Attached is the cover and here’s the blurb;
Your information is being sold. And guess who’s paying for it?
It’s 2066, and living in a country where big corporations are constantly undressing you with their spies isn’t much fun for Duncan. He remembers the days when information was protected, not sold to the highest bidder. When his illegal organic vegetable trade is discovered at the bottom of his garden in the town of Wigthorn, the tomatoes really hit the fan.
Amy works for Pharmara, the biggest pharmaceutical company in the UK, analysing user data. Yes, it’s as boring as it sounds but she believes a little corporate access to personal information is a small price to pay to live in a post-tax, post-carbon, post-poverty world.
After all, if you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear … right?
Poppy lives in Shaded Vale, a town rich enough to stay off the radar. Her father has some big plans to shake up the industrial power balance.
Thrown together by circumstance, Duncan, Amy and Poppy become tangled in a dangerous quest for truth with Pharmara Security hot on their heels. But if knowledge is power, how is it that those in power are such idiots?
I’ve got a website here – http://www.b3n3llis.com – and I’m on Twitter here – https://twitter.com/b3n3llis.
Let me know if you’d like to review it.
Here are 5 sites that provide links to book reviewers you might be able to contact;
- http://www.hippogriff.wordpress.com – blogroll on right side
- http://www.sqt-fantasy-sci-fi-girl.blogspot.co.uk – list of sites down the left side
Also keep your eyes peeled for book reviewers on Twitter as their reviews get retweeted by authors, bloggers, fans and others.
5. Book review journalists
This is a long shot. A huge long shot for a debut, self-published author. One that has been too long for me so far as I haven’t got any press reviews yet, but I have got a couple of journo’s to respond with ‘send it over, no promises, I’m mega busy, I’ve never heard of you‘ – I’ll take that! Also, check out the people a journalist is following on their Twitter account too.
6. Top Amazon reviewers
I’d heard of this tip before and quite quickly you find yourself getting nowhere when you start from the top UK reviewer and work downwards. So, I started from UK Reviewer No.1000 and worked upwards only contacting those that mentioned books. To be honest, I didn’t get much success but I still think it was worthwhile.
Similar to the top Amazon reviewers, I did a similar thing with the top Goodreads reviewers that mentioned the genre’s my book covered. I had more success here with a couple of reviewers reading and reviewing the book on both Goodreads AND Amazon.
8. Sites related to subject
If your book is related to the car industry then you could try contacting car sites/blogs with your novel for a review. The theory I took was; people that like cars might also like reading novels about cars. (My novel isn’t about cars but you get the idea)
9. Sites related to location
I had more luck with this approach. My novel is based in my hometown of Worthing, which is not something you get that often in the big bad world of publishing so there was an angle there for local sites and publications. I would assume this only works if your book is based on other such literary remote locales. If you’ve set yours in London or New York, pffft!
10. Pay for a review
There are two kinds of paid review. Pay for a professional reviewer to give your story an expert review, or, pay for a particular number of blind reviews.
The former is fair play because the reviewer has actually read your book, the latter isn’t.
Legit review sites include NetGalley ($399), SPR ($119) and Kirkus ($425) which were all too expensive for me with zero guarantee’s but StoryCartel was quite good value at $25 and I got 28 people downloading my book. Unfortunately it doesn’t let you know if any of those 28 downloads actually post a review but you do get a CSV file of their email addresses so you can contact them at a later date to find out, which is what I did.
Or you can just pay for a ‘blind review’ where the person hasn’t actually read your book. This isn’t cricket but if you’ve got no reviews on Amazon and yet you’ve managed to somehow get some press and want to quickly get a couple up there then this might be a good option. Fiverr is such a place.
Once you’ve got a reviewer to positively respond saying they’d like to review your book, then LEAVE THEM BE! Don’t go chasing them or bugging them. Let them get around to reading it in their own sweet time; you’ve done the hard work, focus your energies elsewhere. I’ve got reviewers 6 months later who haven’t got around to reading it yet. A number of reviewers didn’t reply to my initial email so I did politely chase them up about 4 months later with a quick reminder, but that’s as far as I’m going with that, I can take a hint.
If you’ve got any other ideas on how to get a book review, let me know. If you’re book reviewer yourself and would like to give ‘In A Right State’ a whirl, then let me know.