04 Sep 2017
Getting book reviews soon after the publication is useful. Amazon’s algorithms seem to take the number of reviews into account to determine which works to promote (although sales probably have a greater impact). The number of reviews is also a benchmark by BookBub in deciding which sales to publicize.As for readers, the jury is still out. There may be a certain percentage of potential readers who will be impressed if you add “1,000 positive reviews on Amazon.” Personally, I don’t bother reading them, unless it looks like the reviewer is seriously considering the book. I jump to the one- to three-star reviews instead. The longer ones appear to give an honest assessment of the strengths and failures of the work.
There are two steps to distributing your book to get book reviews. The first is to modify your book to include call to actions asking readers to sign up for your Advanced Reading Copies (commonly called ARCs in the industry) review team. The second is to distribute your book.
Prep your ebook
1. Add a page at the front and back of the ebook, asking the reader to join the ARC review team. For those who don’t want to review your book, add a second link to the newsletter list.
2. When the book is sent to them, add a reminder that the Federal Trade Commission requires them to disclose they got a free copy of your book in exchange for a review.
Offer review copies
Here are several strategies to pursue. You shouldn’t do them all at the same time, unless you want to end your campaign by checking into a resort for a rest cure.
1. NetGalley is a service many traditional publishers use to distribute ARCs to reviewers. They buy the right to distribute a certain number of books at a time over the course of a year. The cost is high, but there are co-operatives that buy a slot and resell them, so you can buy a month’s “rent” to distribute your title. A slot for one month could cost as low as $50. Google “netgalley coop” for details.
2. Goodreads and Library Thing both run giveaway contests for ebooks (it’s possible to give away trade paperbacks, but it is much more expensive to ship by mail than over the internet.
3. If your book is free or at a discount price, use mailing list sites such as BookBub or BookGorilla. Instafreebie can be used as well (for free books, natch).
4. Remind your newsletter members that they can join the ARC team. You don’t want to do this too many times, just so you catch the newcomers. Or, make it part of your email strategy to offer this after they sign up to your newsletter.
5. Join a multi-author book bundle in your genre. This is where someone organizes a promotion in which your books are jobbed together and offered at a low, low price, or even free. There may be a cost to enter to cover converting the ebooks into a single file, and advertising and marketing. There is a risk. A scammer could convince a group of authors to go in, collect the money, and walk away. Or spend less on promotion than they say they do. Or make it difficult for an author to withdraw from a promotion. Kboards has the details of one lawsuit in progress.
Go into this only if you trust the people involved.6. Ask Amazon reviewers to take a look at your book. This requires some preparation. First, do not use a spamming service. Even though I’m far down on the Amazon review list (and I can’t review a book in my genre), I’ve received canned solicitations that demonstrate that the author knows nothing about me. They are instantly deleted.
Instead, write a short email to the reviewer. Address them by name. Indicate that you’ve read some of their reviews and that your book fits that genre. Give them a brief pitch, and if you can draw a link with anything they’ve read, so much the better (“my protagonist is in the same situation as in Grisham’s The Firm, which you also loved.”)
Chances are, they’ll still say no, but that’s the nature of the business. If it helps, limit yourself to asking 10 reviewers. If they all say no, move on if you feel like it.