Book Reviews – My, they are illusive, aren’t they? I can’t think of anything more important to an author or the most difficult to acquire than reviews, unless it might be sales. But how are you going to get sales without reviews? Not going to happen unless you get a lot of personal recommendations, an influencer to promote for you, or…you might get some readers willing to take a chance because they like your title, cover design, or maybe your description. Another option for getting noticed might be to do something to get famous. Then you probably could sell a lot of books. 😉 Since that is not an option for most of us, let’s look at some more tangible, realistic opportunities.
How Important Are Book Reviews?
Let’s face it, we, as consumers, rarely buy anything without reading at least a few reviews about that product. Amazon’s data even shows that 91% of their buyers check reviews first. It’s only natural that we take mental note of how many, and even the quality of reviews a book has before purchasing. Most reader/buyers, on Amazon are going to check your reviews before they even read your description. Why do you think Amazon puts the star rating and number of reviews right under the title? They know that’s what the consumer wants to see. Amazon doesn’t even consider a book “retail ready” unless it has at least 15 reviews with an average of 3.5 stars or greater. This is hugely important when it comes to conversions.
How Can You Get Book Reviews?
So, how can you get reviews? Well, there are a number of ways, none of which are very easy and the process is going to cost you something – either money or time or both. That is the purpose of this post – to discuss some of the possibilities. While I cannot mention all of them here, let’s talk about some options. As a published author, I have researched and tried many ways to get quality reviews without having to wait forever for them. Now, I don’t mean paying for reviews because that is not acceptable according to Amazon’s Terms of Service. I’m also not referring to editorial reviews by professionals which can be purchased (and are quite expensive and time consuming to get I might add). I’m referring here to customer reviews.
The easiest, free way is to simply ask for them. You can offer a free version of your book, especially before launching, and ask through an email campaign or Facebook post, etc., using your favorite social media outlet. You definitely do need to establish a social media presence for branding. Once you get a few raving fans who will review your book and post their comments online, that should lead to more of the same. You must be sure not to offer any compensation or dictate what kind of review you expect from them. They must be honest, unbiased reviews in their own words, posted directly on Amazon.
What many authors do is to ask at the end of their book something to the effect, “If you liked this book and think others would enjoy it as well, would you please take a moment and leave a review?” There is a generic link you can use (see below) where you simply replace the word “ASIN” with your book’s ASIN. If the reader is logged into their Amazon account, it will take them directly to their orders page where with one click where they can leave a review. When you do that, it makes it effortless for the reader. They just have to select however many stars they want to give you and type in their review. Here is the link you want to use for that:
While this will help and can be effective, only about one in ten readers (if they finish reading your book and even see this link) will actually take the time to leave a review. I would still do it, because it can be easily added to your Kindle books, and by making it so easy for the reader, you may get some reviews you otherwise might not get.
How Can you Be Sure to Get Good Book Reviews?
This should be a given, but I will mention it anyway: If you expect to get good reviews, you have to have a well written book and should be edited by someone else. You need another set of eyes by someone who recognizes good grammar, punctuation and sentence structure, who will be honest with you and can be objective. They will be able to see necessary edits which you, who are too close to the content will see. You need an eye-catching book cover and your description needs to be well written with a compelling call to action that makes them want to read more.
Formatting is important as well. If your text on the page is not formatted well – line breaks in the wrong places, overuse of bold and italics, long, hard to read paragraphs, all look unprofessional and reviewers will knock you down big time for that, especially on Kindle, which has different formatting than your printed version.
You need to find the most relevant keywords that describe your book to put into your dashboard area on Amazon as well as categories that are the most relevant for your book. These last two tips will help with the proper placement of your book so that people will be more likely to find it; but a steady, consistent drip of reviews coming in is one of the best ways over time to gain status and ranking for your book with Amazon. Of course, the more reviews the better to show credibility for those who actually find your book.
Before we get back to HOW to get reviews, let me just mention that this can be a very time-consuming process. Trust me on this one – I hate to think of how many hours, days, weeks, even months, I have spent trying to get my books noticed, to get downloads and reviews. While some marketing obviously is necessary of course, we as authors need to use our time doing what we do best – writing, rather than spending a lot of time trying to snag a review here and there. My goal through this post is to shorten your learning curve on this so you can concentrate on writing your next book.
Do Book Promo Sites Really Help to Get Book Reviews?
Since only one in ten readers who read your book will leave a review, the volume of downloads is important. One way to get a lot of downloads is to invest in some of the popular book promo sites. There are many out there, but most are not cheap; and if the recipients of these promo emails are anything like me, they will download a free or almost free book of interest to their Kindle, where it may sit – unread, forever or for at least for a very long time.
I have gotten some reviews from this process after I spent several hundred dollars to give away a couple thousand downloads of my books for free. While the many downloads that were a result of these promos helped in the ranking of my books in the free Kindle store, I can’t say that I got all that many reviews from them – considering how many were downloaded. I do think promos are good and I did get some reviews each time I have done this, it’s just that I felt like I spent a lot of money for very little return as far as reviews go.
What is the Best and Quickest Way to Get Book Reviews?
Like I said, there are other ways to get reviews which I don’t have to space to adequately address here, but I would like to share with you the easiest and fastest way I have found, which is joining a community of like-minded authors who have the same goal and mindset to help one another with reviews.
Goodreads, owned by Amazon has some community review groups where you can get reviews, and while it is up to the reviewer, you can ask that reviews post to Amazon as well as on Goodreads. That also is a good site to have reviews posted. Many reviewers request a physical copy, but not all. Be careful though, some authors unwittingly ask to swap reviews which is against Amazon’s terms of service.
Two things in particular to look out for in a review site are this: You need to be sure that you are not paying for reviews and the system needs to be set up in such a way, that authors cannot swap reviews. Out of the need I had, I created a review site that would safely be within Amazon’s terms of service. It’s a membership site with a 10-day free trial, so anyone can have an opportunity to try it out to see if it is a good fit for them. You can check it out here: https://GetBooksReviewed.com.
As authors, most of us are in this for the long haul, and reviews are imperative for ranking, status and credibility for your book and for you as an author. You don’t want your book to get too stale – hang around too long without any or just a few reviews. To show just how important they are, some promo sites won’t even take your money to promote your book unless it has a certain number of positive reviews. There is a lot more you can do if you have unlimited funds, but I have found that most of us indie authors need to find the free or almost free options. That’s what I have concentrated on here – options I have tried myself. I hope you have found this helpful.
Wishing you all the best,
Debby Sibert, Author