These days reviews of anything, be it hotels, restaurants, or the entertainment industry matter. We have all skipped going to see a movie because it got terrible reviews. We’re less likely to choose a restaurant on Yelp.com or Google Reviews if it has less than 3 stars. We crave social validity that we are making the right choice, and purchase, and in online bookstores such as Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.com where consumers have little else to go on (perhaps a ‘Look Inside’ sneak peek and the front cover) our need for social validation increases.
In terms of promoting your book, this means that you want as many reviews as possible. While you can’t control how positive or negative a review is (and shouldn’t try to), you can certainly influence how many reviews your book gets. Here are some ideas.
1. Find 100 Amazon reviewers interested in your topic (have reviewed something similar) and offer to give them your book. For every 5 books you send out (here’s where sending out eBooks is awesome and free), you can expect to get 1 or 2 reviews. It’s time consuming, but imagine what 20 reviews could do for your book?
You can find a list of Amazon’s Top Reviewers here: http://www.amazon.com/review/top-reviewers. If they leave their contact info available, then they are no doubt okay with being asked to review books. Don’t go to stalkerish lengths to contact them though if an email address is not clearly visible!
Ask for a review, and make it clear that there is no obligation and that you are not asking for a favorable one, just a fair one.
If you are sending out paperback review copies and are concerned about reviewers re-selling your book, be sure to write ‘Review copy, not for resale’ on both the front and back of the book.
2. When you receive nice words about your book, either from a friend, friend of a friend or total stranger (reader email, tweet etc) ask them right away if they could post an Amazon review. If they are a member of Goodreads, ask them to cross-post here too. Explain why it means so much to you as this isn’t always obvious to the non-author community. And be sure to send the exact link to your book and make this as easy as possible for them!
3. Check out these sites that claim to help you to get reviews:
bookrooster.com charge an administrative fee of $67 per book.
thebookplex.com charge $40 for 5 reviews (note these are not guaranteed to be positive, you are not paying for favorable reviews)
*As always, be sure to do your research before signing up with any service. I have no experience with either of these sites, but find that a quick search on the Kindleboards and Absolutewrite.com/forums/ often gives me the answers I want based on authors experiences.
4. Get on the forums and offer free copies in exchange for reviews. Try Goodreads, the KindleBoards, the NookBoards, the MobileRead forums.
5. Ask for a review on the last page of your novel and encourage readers to submit. Reviews can even be written right from the Kindle or Nook, so a word from you, the author, might be all it takes to encourage readers to write the review on the spot.
6. Submit to book bloggers that cross post to Amazon/ GR. You’ll get double the exposure this way – a review on the book blogging site itself, and on Amazon etc.
For a pretty comprehensive list of sites that accept self-published books for review, see here: http://www.stepbystepselfpublishing.net/reviewer-list.html
And for a list of eBook Reviewers, see here: http://www.tinahunter.ca/links/ebook-reviewers/
As always, follow Review Guidelines very carefully and write a personalized pitch. Your response rate is likely to be much higher.
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UPDATE: The lovely Naomi Blackburn, a top reviewer on GoodReads pointed out to me that GoodReads also has Top Reviewers and Readers list. Most of these reviewers have book blogs too and will usually cross post. Great exposure!