As a writer you have to care about your brand in order to succeed. Whether you're traditionally published or self-published, you have to build your author brand both in person and online. Selling books doesn't magically happen overnight nor will your brand continue to grow if the effort behind it isn't there. You have to be willing to put yourself out there as an author, share who you are as a person behind the brand, and you have to always be on the look-out for new promotional opportunities.
That being said, it's not an easy task to gain reviewers once you've been published. Getting your audience's attention, walking them through the process of reading, and then guiding them to review sites can feel a lot like holding a toddler's hand. It can be time-consuming, frustrating, and filled with a million tiny obstacles (like the reader forgetting or getting distracted). The problem is that reviews are your proverbial golden ticket as an author. Without them, your novel will never see the light of a bestsellers list or even gain promotional advertising on places like Amazon, where only those with high quantities of reviews are suggested to customers by the retailer. It's one of the largest obstacles that authors face and in the beginning it can feel like the only one that matters.
If you're currently struggling with this issue, the biggest question on your mind is probably: How on earth do you get people to leave a review? Followed by: How can I generate the momentum needed to get others to follow suit? As it turns out, it's not rocket science. But it does require a bit of planning and thinking outside the box. Read on for 5 steps that can help prompt more reviews for your novel.
1. Give Advanced Reader Copies To Book Bloggers/Influencers
Before you launch your book, it's important to make a list of Book Bloggers and social media Influencers who are likely to read and leave a review. The benefit of gaining the support of one of these people is their direct and powerful influence on other readers. They have pre-established platforms of readers who take their advice on what to read/what not to read. For instance, on Instagram there is an entire community of devoted readers (and reviewers) who use the hashtag #bookstagram to recommend and give exposure to books and authors. Most do it for fun, so a quick direct message asking to review a free copy of your book can open doors to thousands, if not millions, of potential readers. Similarly, a quick Google search of the top 100 book reviewers, websites, and influencers will turn up lots of options where you can submit your book for review. Reaching out to as many of these as possible will provide exposure and from that exposure, automatic reviews. Forgot to do this before your launch? No problem! You can still use this tactic throughout your book marketing process.
2. Offer Free Copies To Top Reviewers On Major Book Platforms
Similar to the advice above, another channel you can utilize to gain reviews is reaching out to top rated reviewers on large book platforms. The two big ones here are Amazon and Goodreads, but don't forget about places like BookBub, Youtube, and traditional newspapers and magazines such as Writer's Digest. These establishments hosts top reviewers who can help gain reviewers for your novel. All you have to do is find out who these reviewers are and submit your book for said review. On Amazon, start by finding reviewers who have earned a "Top Reviewer" badge on their account pages. Look for those who review books in your genre (don't ask a Sci-Fi reviewer to read your romance novel, for example). Their follower base should be only your target audience- not anyone who reads. Here the reason for reaching out is not only the mass number of readers who follow these reviewers, but also the quality of the review being given. These are the people who know what makes a good review, how to properly critique and give credit where it's due, and can provide an objective, accurate assessment of your work based on high levels of experience. Getting a good review here can lead to many more opportunities simply because people trust the professional opinion of these notables.
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3. Run Book Giveaways Or Provide Other Incentives
It sounds simple, but it really does work. Readers love free books and with added incentives like behind-the-scenes content, book merchandise, character art, short stories relating to your book, signed copies of your book, a discount off your pre-order, or even a book bundle with other authors, you can sweeten the deal of having readers review your books. Not sure how to host a fair exchange? Offer a free copy of your book (or Ebook) and then have your reviewers show proof of their review to receive the rest of the incentives. Digital incentives do work best here, as shipping can grow expensive. Make sure that you plan ahead for how you'll market your giveaways. Taking time to generate excitement weeks before-hand will result in higher traffic and overall payoff rather than a spontaneous announcement. Want even more participation? Gather an army of loyal writer friends and other readers to help you promote/partner with you on this venture to add further value for your readers. Need ideas for your giveaways? Check out this awesome list provided by BookBub: Great Prize Ideas for Book Promotion Contests and Giveaways.
4. Ask Readers To Review A Book In The Back Matter
Another great way to boost your reviews is by including a few previous five star reviews in the back matter of your published books. You can also use this opportunity to ask your readers directly to leave a review and where/how to do it. Doing so can have a huge impact on how many people leave reviews, which can then lead to large impacts on the amount of sales you'll see in the long run. This is one tip that many new authors tend to forget. Your back matter holds the key to so many different ways for you to promote your other books and can be updated throughout your marketing journey. It is never too late to add this to your previously published works if you don't have it in there already!
5. Ask For Relevant Editorial Reviews
Editorial reviews are the flashy ones made by big name authors and noteworthy publications that appear on the covers of books. It's arguably the most challenging type to get if you're self-published and lack the connections of a traditional publisher to back you. However, gaining one or two can bring you benefits that far outweigh the initial awkwardness and work of trying to find someone to endorse you. If you've never done this before it can be a little daunting, but like all things writing-related rejection is part of the nature of the work. How to Get Editorial Reviews for Your Self-Published Book by ALLi Editorial has a great article that will teach you how to go about gaining these types of endorsements, so make sure to read it. The wonderful thing about reaching out is that you could also potentially gain other marketing opportunities from it. In addition to the sales and review boost, it can also lead to other things on your marketing to-do list, like interviews and guest posting on high-traffic blogs.
The best way to gain reviews is to keep trying! As discouraging as it sometimes can be, the more you work at it, the more strategies you employ, and the longer you continue your efforts the better your chances of success. Writing, as we all know, is a long-term game and so is gaining reviews. Be patient and best of luck!
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