It’s well-known that self-published authors need reviews in order to be successful. These reviews activate algorithms on sites like Amazon and Goodreads, which in turn helps to get your book noticed. They also inform readers on what to expect, while using word-of-mouth marketing to increase your overall reach. Today, we’re going to look at the do’s and don’ts of reviews for self-published authors.
How To Find Book Reviewers
If you’re lucky enough to have an email list, this is a great way to ask for reviews. In her new release, How to Market a Book, Joanna Penn recommends a soft pitch to your readers with no pressure. Offer them a free digital copy of your book with a prompt to “please leave a review if you enjoyed the book”. Many of the places you can find reviewers can be found on our article about sending out Advanced Reading Copies, but below is a bullet-point summary:
- Email List
- Social Media Pages
- Kindle Boards/ Online Forums
- Book Bloggers
- Other writers
A Note On a Reviewer’s Obligation
If people have been kind enough to say they will review a book for you, remember that they are in no way obligated to give you a positive review. Most people, especially if you send your book to a book blogger, are specific when they write a review. If they don’t like it they will generally tell you why. This is why it’s so impotant to only publish a book you’re proud of. And you have to make sure you’re looking for honest reviews and not simply to have your ego stroked.
Benefits of a Bad Review
Trolls mouthing-off aside, there are – surprisingly – benefits to receiving a negative review. Some people just won’t like your book. You have to accept that. But if more than one person is pointing out bad spelling, or inconsistent plots, then you need to take notice. This kind of dditing is something you can fix relatively easily. If you don’t, it could well harm your credibility as a writer and as a publisher. The takeaway is, if you have the power to fix something, fix it.
Etiquette for Reviewers and Authors
If a book blogger or a reviewing company is kind enough to review your book, and you would like to quote that review, make sure you extended them the courtesy of linking it back to their website or social media pages, acknowledging them properly. Also, take the time to thank them in a message or an email. Manners cost nothing, while being polite will mean they will more likely consider reviewing your next book.
What NOT To Do
A special warning should be issued to all writers in regards to responding to negative reviews on sites such as Goodreads and Amazon. It would seem that every couple of weeks an author goes into public meltdown over a bad review, engaging in a futile online battle with amateur reviewers.
This kind of behaviour will get you noticed for all of wrong reasons. Responding aggressively to a bad review will do nothing but churn the waters. Remember that the reviewers will never look like the bad guy in this situation no matter how abusive of inflammatory their remarks are. The author will always be made to look like a petulant jerk. If you receive a bad review release any anger or disappointment privately. Bad reviews can really suck, but you are a writer and a publisher, you need grow a thick skin to survive. You will never be able to please everyone.
Making The Most Of Your Book Reviews
Reviews can be a great tool to make you feel good about your novel as well as to help you to find where you could be falling down as a writer. Being polite and professional at all times will ensure that you grow your fan base and gain a reputation for being professional.
For further reading the below titles come highly recommend:
- How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn
- The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing (3rd Edition) by Catherine Howard
As a reader do you buy books based their reviews or do you ignore them? Which approaches have you used for gaining honest reviews?
Image Credits: ANGRY-ANN by Josh Jansenn (Flickr)