Last week I blogged about my experience on NetGalley. If you read that post then you know I’m not very positive about my experience on NetGalley, but that doesn’t change the fact that I need to get reviews of my books. Tons of writers have written about this topic before, but I thought I’d share my experiences as well.
- Family and friends. Like most newly minted authors, I thought friends and family would be falling all over themselves to read my books and write reviews. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case. There are a few great friends that have been super helpful and supportive, but the vast majority aren’t interested. They have their own lives – busy raising children, working, and trying not to go crazy. I was a bit miffed at first. After all, I would be crazy excited if a friend of mine wrote a book. But the older I get the more I realize that I shouldn’t put my expectations on my friends. So don’t be upset if your friends and family don’t run out and buy your book and write glowing 5 star reviews.
- Goodreads. There are several groups of Goodreads which offer reviews. Writers are put together in groups of 10 to ensure that there are no reciprocal reviews (which are frowned upon by Amazon). The reviews are guaranteed, but that also means you are required to read 4 books as well. On the one hand, this is awesome. Reviews are guaranteed! (I know I’m repeating myself, but it bears repeating.) My issue with the reviews was that frankly some (not all!) of the reviewers got off on putting down other writers who they were reviewing. And there are also several old school writers out there who believe that Goodreads reviews should be more critiques than reviews and therefore should automatically be one star lower than Amazon. If you’re looking for a critique, this is great. If you’re looking for a review not so much.
- Paid reviews. Amazon is trying hard to eliminate paid reviews from being published on its website. Unfortunately, the Amazon policy goes so far as to make normal blogger reviews sometimes suspect. I’m going to be honest and say I did actually pay for some reviews (via Fiverr and otherwise). Don’t. Do. It. Often the so-called reviewer doesn’t even bother to read the book. I may be paying for a review, but that doesn’t mean I automatically expect 5 stars. But it seems that’s what a lot of services provide. A review, which makes it clear that the reviewer didn’t even bother reading the synopsis, isn’t going to do you any good.
- Review library services. This is a paid service often run by a blog tour company, but also available from several paid book advertising companies. The problem with this type of service is that there is no guarantee of reviews – at all. Some companies will offer a partial refund if they are unable to secure any reviews. You’ll still be out costs, however, as they’ve put in the work to find reviewers and will need to be compensated for that work. I haven’t had a lot of success with this method. Just like my NetGalley experience, I’ve had quite a few reviewers download my book but not provide a review. I’m definitely considering trying again but with a different company. I’ll let you know how it goes.
- Library Thing giveaway. You can do a member giveaway on LibraryThing. The winners are strongly encouraged to write reviews. I did a giveaway of one of my books and didn’t get one review. This may be a good way to promote your book, but it’s definitely not a successful manner for getting reviews.
All is not lost! The above methods didn’t work for me, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t had some positive experiences. (And heck! Maybe the above methods worked for you, let me know.)
- Contacting bloggers directly. There’s no denying that this is time consuming. It’s also the most effective manner of getting reviews and repeat reviews. I now have a list (it’s short but it’s still a list!) of bloggers I contact whenever I have a new release. Nine times out of ten, the bloggers on this list will agree to review. To get the most out of this method, it’s important to write a good review request. See my article on how a writer should go about asking for reviews.
- Review Tours. If you don’t want to take the time and effort needed to write individual bloggers, a review tour is a good option. Make sure that the tour company ensures that reviews are posted to Amazon or another retail outlet. Most companies will guarantee a certain number of reviews or give you a rebate if they’re unable to find a minimum number of reviewers. You’ll want to keep a list of the bloggers who liked your book. They may be willing to review your next book as well.
- RRBC. Rave reviews book club is a club for writers helping writers. Members are required to review three books a year of other members. There’s tons of other support as well. If your book is chosen for an additional push (like book of the month), there’s a good chance you’ll gain some reviews as the other members are writers too and understand the need for reviews. There’s a minimal cost to join.
That’s pretty much everything I’ve tried so far. I’m still working at achieving 50 reviews for one book – which is the point at which Amazon (according to that crazy algorithm) will show your book more often. I’d love to hear other authors opinions and experiences!