We all know that receiving book reviews (blogs, Amazon, Goodreads etc) is vital to the success of our work, especially those who are self published and don’t have the support of a publisher behind them, but how do you get them? Statistically, if a person is subjected to a positive review about a product from three places they trust (ie a friend, their favourite website and someone they follow on Twitter) they are more likely to buy it. This is why focusing on just one form of PR and exposure for your book doesn't work. You need to saturate the market to get noticed, or at least create noise in your chosen demographic. So how can you achieve that? Here is my Top Ten List for getting more book reviews: 1) Write an amazing book that people want to talk about Well yes, we're all trying to do that - but it still doesn't mean people are willing to take 5 minutes out of their life to go on Amazon and Goodreads and rave about you. Let's look at more controllable methods... 2) Ask for reviews “What do you mean?” I hear you cry. “You mean BEG!?” No. No one’s begging here. We’re reminding our readers that every little helps. The easiest way to do this is to add a page at the back of your book with your FB and Twitter handles, asking for reviews. You need to catch your readers while they are still in the midst of their book hangover; while they’re still there with your characters swooning, crying and feeling the feels. That's when they are more likely to leave a good review, while it's still fresh in their minds. A week later they will have forgotten all about your characters and won't be bothered to go to the effort. So add it to the end of your book.
3) Are people Tweeting and messaging and telling you in person that they really enjoyed your book? Great. Ask them to review it!
You can't be shy about it. You want GENUINE reviews, not family and friends doing you a favour (that nonsense is frowned upon and insincere anyway). You want to hear from the people who read it and loved it. So when they go to the trouble of telling you, ask them to add their comments to Goodreads and Amazon. They don’t have to write a lengthy book report - just two words such as 'loved this!' will do.
There’s not much point receiving all these reviews if you don’t use them to your advantage though. So SHARE these reviews on your social media pages, then those reading your book right now will see what a big difference they can make and will remember to leave one themselves. 4) You even want bad reviews Yes, yes you do. If someone said that they didn't enjoy your book, ask them why. If it's because they (let’s say) don't like romance books, that still works in your favour. I always read the 1* reviews first, because you know they will be 100% genuine.
If they say 'This book was too romantic and cultural. All those references to European art and the will-they-won't-they love story wasn't for me. I wanted more thrills and suspence’ – there will be people seeing this as a plus, not a negative.
On the other hand, if a reader didn't like your book because they thought you're a crap writer, then tell them to keep quiet. Those kinds of comments are not good for anyone! 5) Book clubs on social media These are your best friends. As an author, you are more than likely be an avid reader as well - so join as many Facebook groups as you can. Not to spam and flog your book (that’s the best way to make enemies in the book world and get blacklisted by bloggers), but to INTERACT. Get to know the founder of the group and ask them what you can and can't do. Read the rules. Join in with discussions. Ask if you can run a Q&A with them or a LIVE author talk. Get exposure is an interactive and social way, get to know book bloggers, writers and others in the industry. Then, once you have developed a readership on that group, ask for their support. Ask them to share info about your book with friends and ask for reviews to those that have read it.
6) Interact with your readers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter Yes, it takes effort. Selling your work takes time and effort....but once you are established you can slow down a bit because your readers will be doing the selling for you. So Tweet and Post every day, and as people tell you they enjoyed your book - ask for a review (and share that Tweet)! 7) Give some copies away “What? But I want to make money...you're crap at this”, I hear you scream. Well, actually, when you go to a supermarket how many free trials have you tasted? Did you drive your car before you bought it? Did you try on the clothes in the shop before you bought them? Same with books - entice them with a free chapter here and there, and for reviews give some digital copies away. Netgalley, Goodreads give-aways, Facebook groups and Twitter are great places to gather readers together and give away an advance or a digital copy your book in exchange for a review. This applies to both professional bloggers and those that you know will enjoy it/suits their favourite genre and will write something nice in all the right places. On Goodreads they need to state the copy was free, on Amazon they may have issues leaving a review if they don't adhere to their rules...but still worth it. This works especially well when you’re promoting a series – in many cases book one is nothing more than a sales hook to get people to invest in the rest of the series. 8) You know those readers who LOVE your work and bought signed copies and want to tell everyone that you are the best? Work with them. Ask them to lend their book to a friend and for the friend to review it. Ask them to shout about you on their own social media and spread the word. See if they want to join your Beta Reader group for future books. Also, those that left a lovely review on Amazon.com - ask them to leave it again on .co.uk and vice versa via social media or your Facebook author page.
9) Get to know other authors They are the only ones that know what you are going through. Swap books and review each other's work and support one another - especially if you are writing for the same genre. 10) And finally.... Chill. You never know when you'll get an influx of reviews - and when you won't. I found that July - August and Dec I was INUNDATED (because everyone finally had time to sit and bloody read a book)...yet it was quiet other times. Reviews aren't the only thing people look at, but they DO help for a number of reasons (which is another post). What also helps is word of mouth, book groups, press, social media, similar authors recommending you, events, exposure and presence in the places where your target market is at. PR, marketing, sales, social media and building your brand IS NOT A ONE OFF THING. You can't dedicate two weeks of your life to promoting your book then expect it to manage itself, it's an ongoing process. You have to light the fire and then keep fanning the flames...or it WILL go out, no matter how successful you are. So I hope this helps. Write your own list of what you will do and when and then stick to it. Nothing will happen the first month, maybe nothing in the second month either (how many times have you bought a book and it's sat on your shelf for ages?) but slowly you'll start to see the fruits of your labour. All you need is one influential person to love it, and then their friends will buy it, and they will shout about it and then you'll have a big exciting happy snowball! Good luck, everyone. May the reviews be forever in your favour....