Traditionally, writers and authors have relied on reviewers and critics to gain an understanding of how their books are received. It allows us to get an unbiased view without marketing teams or agents trying simply to talk us up. In fact, reviews are intrinsic to the constant search to improve as writers, providing the right kind of feedback.
Increasingly, writers, especially those that are self-published, are reliant on getting a wealth of reviews to help us sell. Having a good strong diverse opinion for all to see helps to establish credibility in our work in the minds of potential readers. Reviews should be part of your marketing strategy and something you should actively seek.
Building a list
Sadly authentic, positive reviews don’t always just fall into our laps.
You’ve probably come across a few Amazon book reviewers that seem somewhat…suspect. These paid reviewers undermine the whole industry, leaving talented writers scrambling to fight through the nonsense to get their name out there. For those who do use these services, whilst it may be beneficial financially in the short term (if it works) sooner or later their names are going to be tarnished as a result of their dodgy dealings, ruining any chances to establish themselves as writers of any worth.
So where do we get our reviews from?
Firstly, it’s a good idea to check out your competition, and typically for writers, our competitors are the books we really enjoy – the writing that influences us the most. So it’s helpful to start by generating a list of authors you like and seeing what kind of reviewers that they get. Chances are these are the same that are going to buy into your particular genre, whatever that may be.
Often you’ll find that these reviewers, who actively put their thoughts on any particular books for all to see, are going to be more susceptible to any requests. Some will even have their email addresses visible on their profiles. From these, you can build a list of possible candidates to review your book.
Ask for the Review!
“There’s an expectation amongst writers that your work is done when the final, edited proof is with the publisher. But sadly, as the realm of publishing changes, authors are expected to engage in a lot more outreach. For authors who want to extend their books reach as far as possible, this means asking for reviews,” shares William Stevenson, self published author and contributor to Draftbeyond and Writinity.
Approach each request as you might for an agent. Personalize each email, showing that you know what these reviewers enjoy and why you think they specifically would enjoy your book. If you are approaching a book blogger, show that you have followed their blog -adhering strictly to their rules of submission.
“An important thing to remember is that even though you may offer goody bags, advance paperback copies or even mentions in the foreword, no reviewer likes to be emotionally blackmailed into leaving a good review. It soils their reputation, makes a mockery of the whole business, and is, ultimately, without advantage to you as a writer,” adds Ronald Ferguson, writer at Last Minute Writing and Researchpapersuk.
Like any business, showing that you are prepared to engage with your customers is a real testament to your dedication to the craft of writing. To your reviewers – all of them – it signals that you are happy to take on board advice and constructive criticism. So it’s a good idea to spend some time thanking everyone, both good and bad reviews, for their time in reading your book. The very fact that they’ve spent the time means that they have made an investment in you.