How Can Indie Authors Get Book Reviews?
Book reviews are essential for Indie authors. Not only are they a key component of a sound marketing plan, but they also provide a source for potential readers to find out if a particular book is unique and worth buying.
The simple reality is that the self-publishing industry has become exceptionally popular. There are brand new Indie authors entering the market with each passing day. This fact has positive and negative consequences for Indie authors and their readers alike. The influx of new material means the selection is greater than ever. Unfortunately for the Indie author, it also means that so is the competition. For the reader (otherwise known as the customer), the selection may be greater, but so is the risk. There are many books out on the market which really shouldn’t be. They can be woefully undeveloped with abysmal editing. On the other hand, there are numerous books which have been written by Indie authors which are simply extraordinary. I know this first hand as I have read many books by Indie authors which are both the former and the latter. The question then becomes how can a reader find these excellent books and bypass the others? Also, in such a competitive market, how can Indie authors possibly get book reviews? As a very active book reviewer myself, I have listed some sure fire methods below for Indie authors to obtain that elusive book review!
Before starting I must note that I am only referring to unpaid book reviews here. There are a number of sites and services which provide a paid book review service, but that is not what this article is discussing. Also, the tone of this article is quite informal as I am including a very personal touch and perspective to the list as I am showing how this list actually influence who I choose to review.
5 Steps for Indie Authors to Get a Book Review:
1. Build Your List:
The very first thing which you should do when it comes to locating someone who can provide a book review is to build a list. The list will contain book reviewers and book bloggers who accept work in your particular genre. You will also want to ensure that they are actually accepting requests. Many book bloggers and reviewers have closed their list due to an overwhelming demand. To include them upon your list is a lesson in futility! Below are some great places to start looking for potential book reviewers:
- The Indie View
- Melanie Rockett
- The Book Blogger List
- Book Reviewer Yellow Pages
- Feedspot for Bloggers
- Book Review Directory
- Kate Tilton’s Book Bloggers
- Twitter and Facebook
2. Understand the Reviewer:
Finding a quality book reviewer in many ways is no different than finding a good plumber, accountant or landscaper. You have to do your research! What genres does the reviewer cover? What are their book review policies and criteria? Why do they review books in the first place anyways…what is in it for them? Is it a hobby? Maybe they run a blog and are hosting ads for income. In my own personal case I review books because I have an intrinsic desire to help out Indie authors. There are very personal reasons that have led me to pursue this quest. However, if you did not take the time to explore my website and find that out, it would put you at a huge disadvantage compared to those who have. Before requesting a book review, make sure you really understand the book reviewer and their individual motivation.
3. Build A Relationship:
I can hear the moans in the background. When you are busy writing, marketing and trying to live a normal life, how can you possibly have time to build a relationship with a book reviewer? Well, the simple answer is that this can be a very quick and easy thing to do. Believe me, the book reviewer is also very busy reading and writing book reviews while they are juggling their day job at the same time. They do not have a lot of spare minutes either. Nevertheless, a simple message here or there by email or social media will make all the difference. I always appreciate this myself and make a mental and recorded note of the gesture. I guarantee that taking some time to build a relationship with the book reviewer will have your book jump to the front of the queue. It certainly does with my own “To Be Reviewed” (TBR) list!
4. Query the Reviewer:
You’ve built your list, researched the potential reviewers and have started to build a mutual relationship with them. You now know what makes them tick and they are becoming familiar with you as well. What better time than now to send a query? Congratulations…you have greatly reduced the risk of your pretty letter ending up on the bottom of their TBR pile. You will know exactly what the reviewer is looking for and have included it in your query. You took your time and did your homework and as such are familiar with their requirements. Do they request a copy of the book…or do they purchase it themselves? Do they require a paperback copy…or are they ok with an ebook? You do not need to waste a lot of yours or the reviewer’s time trying to figure all this out…because you already know! For instance, I personally always purchase the books I review myself. I do this out of my own pocket and pay for it with the ads on my website. I do not break even…but almost. In my mind this helps the Indie author out even more and guarantees that there is no chance for a bias review. Also, many powerhouses like Amazon do not look kindly on reviews which are not backed up and verified with a purchase. Considering this, I greatly appreciate it when authors do not send me a copy of their book. Of course, other reviewers will be the exact opposite. By in such a competitive market, how can Indie authors possibly get book reviews? As a very active book reviewer myself, I have listed some sure fire methods below for Indie authors to obtain that elusive book review! you will once again stand out with the book reviewer.
So your request was accepted and a review was written for your work. Mission accomplished right? Wrong! For book reviews to have a continual and lasting impact there has to be a reciprocal relationship. Promoting the review on your own blog, website or social media accounts is mutually beneficial. For instance, when I complete a review I am very grateful when the author reciprocates in this fashion. My philosophy is that further exposure for my reviews allows my “brand” to grow which in turn helps the Indie author. Book reviews are not meant to be written once and stagnate. They have to be a dynamic entity. Also, if I write a review and never hear from the author again (until they need another review), I will not be inclined to ever repeat the process. In other words, it has to be reciprocal. If so, not only will the book review have a much greater impact, but the odds of that Indie author getting further reviews from that individual are greatly enhanced.
In closing, it is important to stress that not all book reviewers are the same. They have various polices, requirements and motivation. There is also an overwhelming demand placed upon book bloggers and book reviewers. The average reviewer cannot possibly keep up with their volume of requests. They have to shortlist and prioritize their requests. In order to get that elusive book review, an author has to create a plan and do their homework in order to stand out. I certainly acknowledge that this is extra work and time which the typical author has very little of. However, remember that the reviewer is probably in the same boat so to speak. Consider it a golden return on a long term investment.
These are my personal thoughts on the issue. I would love to know yours as well. Please comment below.