Get People Talking: Making the Most of Book Reviews

It’s a well-known fact that word-of-mouth sells more books than almost anything else. Beyond your friends and family, people “discover” your book because someone else is talking about it. Professional book reviews give people confidence that your book is well-produced and is worth your audience’s time and money. They’re an integral part of the traditional publishing industry, which has entire trade publications dedicated to advising booksellers and book buyers on what titles they need. They’re just as important if you’re self-publishing.

So, your book is finished, ready to sell. Although most people start their marketing as they’re working on their project, book reviews can only be done once you’ve completed your book. For many publications, there’s about a 90-day window where your book is considered “new” and worthy of review, so it’s best to get people talking about your book before your launch. That way, come launch day, you’re ready to sound the trumpets.

Here’s how to make book reviews part of your self-publishing marketing plan.

1. Build Your Author Kit

It’s essential to make it as easy as possible for people to refer to you and your book. Your “author kit” should accompany your request for reviews, be readily available on your website, and your social media profiles. People will often use the information that’s easiest to find, so make sure what they find is what you want them to know. Your author kit should include:

  • 2 bios: one short, one-sentence bio and one paragraph-size bio detailing your expertise, author history, other books, where you’re from, and chosen personal details
  • Press release—something to make the launch of your book sound like a news article
  • Marketing photos of your book, isolated book covers, sample pages if it’s a visual book
  • Large and thumbnail-sized photos of you, the author
  • A PDF or EPUB3 version of your complete book

2. Target Your Submission

You’re looking for both print and digital publications who might find your book interesting. Start by reaching out to other blogs and authors that you read, and ones in your community. Email them and see if they’d be interested in reviewing your book. The more familiar the contact, the more likely you are to get a review. Where do YOU learn about books like yours? Start there.

Don’t overlook the sites and publications that specialize in independently published books. Our partner Reedsy has a site that keeps the latest review publications and submission guidelines up to date. Try  Goodreads. Only publishers can give away books for free there, but you can still find potential reviewers through their groups, some of which are dedicated to connecting authors with reviewers. Before posting review opportunities, be sure to check that the rules of the particular group allow it.

Lastly, do giveaways via social media and your blogs. Encourage followers to leave reviews on Amazon and, or wherever you plan to sell your books online. Feel free to re-post those reviews on your own site or in “blurbs” at the front or back of your book.

Note: TheCreativePenn has a great blog post on getting Amazon reviewers to review your book.

3. Manage Your Expectations

  • Don’t expect the reviewer to respond or even actually complete the review. Reviewing a book is time-consuming, and securing a review is hard. Offset this by submitting to lots of different reviewers.
  • Don’t ask for a “good” or favorable review. Let the reviewer be honest.
  • Although some sites might charge a submission fee for expedited processing, don’t offer to pay the reviewer
  • Don’t ask for it to be done by a certain date.
  • You’re not a restaurant on Yelp, you’re a self-publishing author whose work speaks for itself. Don’t reply or react to the review.

4. Collect and Post Your Reviews Everywhere

You can use any review, in full or in part, that’s publicly posted for your marketing. If you get a review that speaks favorably of your book, put that thing everywhere! On your site, the sites where you sell your books, and on social media. If the reviewer liked your book and has an active following, they might appreciate the connection with yours. Good reviews for books are essential, but hard to come by. Once you get one, make sure you use that thing for all it’s worth.

Had any luck scoring a review? Tell us about it in the comments section below!


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