Saturday, April 13, 2013

How To Get Honest Book Reviews

How To Get Honest Book Reviews

Book Review Bloggers


Honest reviews are one of the best ways of increasing book sales. I know it's anecdotal, but Amanda Hocking credits reviews left by bloggers as being responsible for much of her early success. She writes:
Book bloggers have saved my life. Book bloggers absolutely without a doubt sell books. I can prove it to you. In May, I sold just over 600 books. In June, I sold over 4,000. In May, I had no reviews. In June, book bloggers started reviewing my books. (Book Bloggers Are People, Too, February 9, 2011)
I think even an honest one-star review is better than no review! That is, as long as it's not a screed against the author admonishing him to never again put pen to paper.

So how does an author go about soliciting honest reviews?


Book Bloggers


Book bloggers read and review books free of charge and will often post their reviews not only on their book blog but on sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

It vastly increases ones chance of receiving a review if one reads and follows each blogger's submission guidelines as carefully as one would those of a publisher or agent.

Keep in mind that many bloggers only accept traditionally published books and, of those who will review indie books, often they will only review certain genres or they will only accept a physical, paper, book.

I look at it this way: if I don't do what a reviewer wants me to do then how can I ask the reviewer to do what I want her to do?

What to send


If a reviewer specifies in their submission guidelines what they'd like you to send then that part's easy, but sometimes they don't. Then what do you send?

Mike Reeves-McMillan suggests the following:
"1. A good brief blurb that piques interest in your book ..."

"2. A synopsis."

"3. An author bio. Try to find something interesting to say about yourself."

"4. Links to where your book is for sale, if it is."
These links will make it easy for the reviewer to find where on the internet to post their review of your book.
   
"5. More links to you and your book on Goodreads (or Shelfari or LibraryThing if you use them; some reviewers will post there), to your blog, and to your social media. Some reviewers want these."

"6. Your cover art."
  
"7. An author photo."
   
"8. An extract from the book."
Mike put all of the above in a press kit and included a link to the kit in the email he sent off to any reviewer who didn't specify what they wanted an author to include in their submission.

I think that's a brilliant idea!

Keep track of your submissions


Mike also recommends starting a spreadsheet--he used Google Docs--so you can track:

- Which book reviewers you submitted to
- When you submitted
- When they responded
- What they said
- If they posted a review

Mike also kept track of:

- Where the review was posted (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, etc.)
- How many stars the reviewer gave

Once you have this information you can use it when you're getting ready to send out your next book for review.

Mike reports that the number of bloggers who accepted his work for review outnumbered those who didn't by a factor of 2 to 1. That response rate is excellent! He also included a generic letter in his post, one that he sent out if a reviewer didn't request anything specifically.

You can find Mike on the web over at The Gryphon Clerks.


Finding Reviewers: Databases Of Book Blogs


Last year I discovered a couple of databases containing contact information for book bloggers who accept independently published work. These are all honest reviewers who take pride in the fact they write and post their reviews for free.

The Indie Book Blog Database


The Indie Book Blog Database contains information about hundreds of blogs which review indie books completely free of charge.

Jennifer Hampton, the database owner, reminds writers that since these bloggers review books as a hobby, and since they are routinely flooded with review requests, authors must be prepared for a lengthy wait between submission and review.


The Indie View


The Indie View is another database which keeps track of review blogs which will consider indie published books for review.

In order for a reviewer to be included in the database he/she must:

- Actively post reviews
- Not charge for reviews
- Not be affiliated with a publisher

Definitely something to take a look at!

Book Blogs Search Engine


The Book Blog Search Engine allows you to search thousands of book review blogs but be aware that many of these reviews do not accept independently published work.
Question: Have you ever submitted your book to a blogger for review? What was your experience like?

Other articles you might like:

- What Slush Pile Readers Look For In A Story
- Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge: Choose Your Opening Line
- Is Writing Rewriting?

Photo credit: "Song (John Keats, 1795-1821)" by jinterwas under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

6 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing! Excellent information.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Informative as always. Your blog worked in reverse for me. I am planning to join any of these sites as reviewer. I love reading and discussing books so it'd be a good way of speaking my mind out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Fizza!

      Excellent idea. Also, I can recommend critters.org as a great group and an easy way of getting a lot of eyes on your work. Or, if you just want to review, you'll find a lot of appreciative folks over there!

      Delete
  3. These days, I choose almost all of the books I read from book blogger reviews. Even a negative review might entice me to buy the book, particularly if I'm familiar enough with the blogger to know where my taste differs from her taste.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "... particularly if I'm familiar enough with the blogger to know where my taste differs from her taste"

      That's an excellent point. I loved the late Roger Ebert's reviews because, even when he gave a 1 or 2 star review, I would know his taste well enough to get an idea whether I'd like the movie anyway.

      And Ebert even said, more than once, that just because he gave a movie a thumbs down (this was when he was doing the TV Show) it didn't mean it wasn't worth seeing.

      Thanks for your comment! :-)

      Delete

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