How to get book reviews
This is the preface to my revised book marketing guide, you can find the whole series on Medium or download the free PDF.
Many authors make the mistake of trying to sell their book before their platform is ready; but even if your book and website look great, people may still be reluctant to trust you. This is where “social proof” or reviews come in. You need to get as many reviews as you can, hopefully at least ten, before you start doing any serious marketing.
But how do I get reviews? You say. It’s tough, I know. Giving out copies to your friends and family doesn’t work as well as it should, and sometimes puts them in an uncomfortable position between their integrity and their loyalty to you. You can buy some if you have to (paid reviews do not equal “fake” reviews; they can be both professional and honest, like Kirkus or Foreword, although I wouldn’t pay that much for a review.) These go under the “editorial review” section of your book description, not on Amazon directly.
You can also nag the hell out of a few people until they post something, but you probably shouldn’t. To start, I’d make a list of 30 to 40 or so dream people who may review your book. Oprah is probably busy, but other authors in your field, other indie bloggers or indie book review blogs, leaders in your community or minor celebrities, local newspapers, your local library… Get their emails and ask them for reviews. Check in with them politely at least 3 times before you give up. Yes it’s humbling, humiliating, and potentially annoying. Try not to be too obnoxious. Here are a few sample letters you can use:
#1: Hi, I’m a big fan of your work and what you’re doing in the community, I noticed you recently reviewed ________ . I’m also an author and am just wrapping up a book on _________, which is similar. I think you may enjoy it, and would love to offer you a free copy. It’s about (very brief, 1 or 2 powerful sales sentences that sell your book). Of course a review or blurb would be welcome if you have the time and you feel you can honestly endorse my book, but I will totally understand if you’re too busy right now for that. Still, I’d like you…