Authors want book reviews. Positive reviews on sites like Amazon provide social proof and help potential buyers decide whether or not this is a book they want to read. Reviews and features on book blogs help spread the word about your book.
Reviews are also a subtle form of self-promotion: tweeting “check out this great review of my book” is nowhere near as spammy as the endless “buy my book!” tweets I see on some author accounts.
I have been reviewing books online since September 2011, first on a basic Blogger site, and now on my website. In that time I’ve reviewed something approaching 1,000 books, including hundreds from indie authors, yet there are hundreds more review requests I’ve turned down.
The average American reads less than fifteen books a year. Most book bloggers I know read ten times that. I know I do. I want to find and read and support new authors, but I can’t read all the books.
I have to be selective. I currently have six month’s worth of books in my review pile (and even more books that I’ve paid money for and still not read). I don’t need more books to read or review. I decline more review requests than I accept.
What Does it Take to Get Book Bloggers to Review Your Book?
Here are my top tips:
Tip 1: Know the Book Blogger’s Preferred Genre/s
I read relatively widely, but my book blog focuses on Christian romance—ideally contemporary Christian romance, romantic suspense or historical romance. I refuse all direct requests for non-fiction or general market fiction, although I will occasionally request and review such titles via NetGalley. Please don’t waste your time or ours by asking bloggers to review a genre they say they don’t review.
Know your target reader, and find bloggers who match that profile. Your book is not for everyone.
Tip 2: Target Your Book Review Request
If you’re asking for a review because your book is similar to Book X by Author Y, and you know I liked Book X, tell me. If you’ve read and enjoyed my reviews, tell me. Flattery works 🙂
If you’re going to try and claim some common interests or pre-existing relationship, get your details right. Maybe I do follow you on Twitter, but I follow 10,000+ other people as well. Following you doesn’t mean I see (or like) your tweets. Maybe I did also review Book A by Author B, but did I like it? If not, it’s probably best not to mention it … unless you also disliked Book A and your book is nothing like it.
Tip 3: Have a Great Book Cover
If an unknown author approaches me for a review, the first thing I’ll do is check the book and author out on Amazon. I’m looking for a cover that reflects the genre and doesn’t look as though it was PhotoShopped by a teenager going through their psychedelic stage. If I don’t like the cover or don’t think it fits the genre, then I’m likely to decline the review request. Call me shallow, but I don’t want ugly covers on my website.
Tip 4: Optimize Your Amazon Book Page
This isn’t rocket science. From my point of view as a book blogger, I mean:
- Write a solid book description. Focus on the plot, the characters, and the conflict. Don’t tell me I’m going to love the novel, or that the writing has been compared to that of Author B or Author Y. I can decide that for myself.
- Categorise the book properly. If you’re telling me your book is Christian romance, then I expect to see it in categories such as Christian Books & Bibles > Literature & Fiction > Romance or Romance > Inspirational > Christian.
If your book isn’t for sale yet, then I’m going to judge this based on the email you sent me, or on any previous books you’ve published.
Please don’t fudge the genre. Don’t try and mislead me into believing your story is a Christian romance because it has Christian themes and romantic elements. Star Wars has Christian themes (battle of good and evil) and romantic elements (Han Solo!). That doesn’t make Star Wars a Christian romance.
Tip 5: Have a Great Opening
If the book is already on sale, I’ll download the Kindle sample. If it isn’t, I’ll download your most recent book. I’m looking for a novel that draws me in and pulls me through so I get to the end of the Kindle sample and want to keep reading. If you can achieve that, then I’m going to agree to review your book (that doesn’t mean I’m going to give it a glowing five-star review, but you should already know that, from reading my other reviews).
I’m looking for clean writing and clean copy. No spelling mistakes or factual errors. I’m a freelance editor, but I read and review for pleasure. I don’t want to read novels with omniscient POV. I don’t want to read novels with creative dialogue tags, excessive telling, too many adverbs, too much backstory, or writing that makes Dickens look succinct.
#NaNoProMo Day 12: Remarkable Confessions From Book Bloggers You Need to Hear by guest @IolaGoulton and be sure to comment to win Iola's generous giveaway!
Bonus Tip: Have an Online Platform
When I review a book on my website, I link to the book on Amazon, Goodreads, and a couple of other online retailers. I link to the author’s website and main social media sites. I also share my reviews on social media and tag the author where possible. So do most book bloggers I know.
If the author doesn’t have a website or isn’t on the main social media sites (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter), then they’re missing the ongoing benefit of an online book review. They don’t get the backlink to the blogger’s website. They don’t get the increased online influence from the social shares.
They don’t even know what they’re missing. And yes, I have reviewed books for authors who I’ve later realised have no online platform. Nothing. Not even a free Blogger site.
Authors, there is no point in asking for reviews if you’re not in a position to maximise those reviews.
You need an online platform as a low-key way of low-key tracking your reviews and thanking reviewers. Because we all know you should never respond to a review on Amazon, right? Not even to say thank you. Instead, follow the reviewer on social media so you can like and comment on the review, or boost both your brands by sharing or retweeting.
If you’re not sure if your online platform is where it should be, check out Rachel Thompson’s 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge. It’s a great resource that will help you check, refresh, and update your platform with consistent branding.
If you don’t have an online author platform, then check out my Kick-Start Your Author Platform Marketing Challenge. Over 40 days, I’ll take you through genre, target reader, author brand, and setting up your branded website, email list, and social media accounts. I’m offering one free enrollment in the Kick-Start Your Author Platform Marketing Challenge to one commenter.
What burning question have you always wanted to ask a book reviewer?
Day 12 Giveaway
Enter to win One free enrollment in the Kick-Start Your Author Platform Marketing Challenge, a $69 value by commenting below!
…is a New Zealand book reviewer, freelance editor, and author, writing contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Unpronounceable Names (Iola is pronounced yo-la, not eye-ola and definitely not Lola).
Iola holds a degree in marketing, has a background in human resource consulting, works as a freelance editor, and has recently introduced the Kick-Start Your Author Platform Marketing Challenge, an email course for authors wanting to establish their online platform. When she’s not working, Iola is usually reading or writing her next book review. Iola lives in the beautiful Bay of Plenty in New Zealand (not far from Hobbiton) with her husband, two teenagers and one cat.