How To Get Your Books Reviewed
Book reviews are huge, vital, a massive piece of selling your book. People don't want to spend time, energy, and money on something that will feel like a waste.
That's why they turn to reviews online. Goodreads, Amazon, Facebook Groups, you name it, they'll check there.
So, as an indie author with you first self published book in hand, how do you get that social proof?
I wish I could say it is simple. It won't be. It will involve a lot of work on your end. Here is what I wish I'd done when I published my first book through KDP.
1) Beta Readers - HUGE. In future I will use Beta Readers as my first wave of reviews. A beta reader, if you don't know, is someone who gets your book before it's published and reads it in exchange for an honest review. You can find beta readers in genre based Facebook groups, in your friend groups, perhaps even through a bulletin in your local library. A beta reader will receive what's known as an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) of your book so that they already have it completed before it's published.
What you want to keep an eye for are people who will sell your book online as a PDF, or give it away for free. I've heard these horror stories. That will disqualify you from KDP Select as well as lose you sales. One way to keep an eye for this is a legal gag, find one online and make your readers sign it. Something else you can do is change the name of a minor character in each of your ARC and keep track of which reader has which character. If it's leaked online, you can then confront your reader with that legal gag
2) Give Aways - people love free. Free signed books are a big one. Offer a free version of your book, signed and personalized, to your fans. The catch? To enter they must leave a review on Amazon, screenshot it, and drop it in the comment section of whatever social platform you're using. Once that is done, do a drawing, pick a reader to win a signed copy, and send it to them via the mail. Yes, this will cost you money, but it is worth it. Also, by the way, if you are in the US, go to the USPS and tell them it will be media mail. In 2020 my 410 page book cost just over $3 to ship via media mail. You're welcome!
3) Don't be afraid to ask. Sounds simple enough, right? But it's not as easy as you might believe. I have had people text me, call me, email me, or message my social media to tell my how much they have loved my book. They will rave about it. I ask them if they would be able to review the book on amazon, goodreads, audible, and they always say yes...and then they don't. At that point you might be worried you're being a pain if you ask about it but the thing is, books don't review themselves. Don't be afraid to send out a reminder to them, offer them perhaps an ACX code of your next book for free if they would mind reviewing the first. Find a way to politely nudge them into the reviews. Most my ACX codes went to waste because I didn't follow up with people and now, months later, I've lost track of who has and hasn't reviewed, which codes I gave away, which I didn't, and I kick myself for that on the daily.
Another great way to ask is post reminders on your social media, in your news letters, and at the end of your book. Just a blurb that mentions you would love their feedback on the platforms. If it is an ebook, include the link to make their lives that much easier.
These steps might be simple. You might think that I should have thought of them long ago but, unfortunately, I didn't know these trade tools when I first published. So, I do hope you learned something that might be of use to you!
If you have other author suggestions for reviews, I'd love to hear them. Go ahead and comment, tell us what you have tried or are trying.
C. J. R. Isely