Book reviews are one of the most powerful marketing activities. There’s nothing like having too many reviews. The great thing about a good review is that it tells potential buyers that someone else has read and liked the book. A good book review is a powerful marketing tool. You can use it by positioning it on your blog. You can also share it using social media links. Another tactic is to add it to your book page on Amazon Center.
There are several strategies you can use to get more reviews.
Good reads Groups are fertile ground for asking for revisions. Use these groups as a first resort. Some of these groups are listed later in this chapter.
Another approach is to contact a review site. These come in two flavors. Your book will be reviewed, usually for a fee. Self-publishing journals is such a site. So is The life of the book. Some sites will review your book for free. Reader’s Favorite is one of those free sites, although it does prompt you to upgrade to a paid trial.
The second type of review site will not actually review your book, but will make it available to a number of potential reviewers. I list some of them later in the chapter. There are many more besides those I mention, but I’ve only included those I know of. A simple search will give you a list of other sites offering book reviews for a price.
Let’s be clear: if you use one of these services, you are not buying a review. You pay for a review service that will put your book in front of many potential reviewers who may or may not choose to review your book. Reviewers who have chosen to read your book are not paid by the review service. What you pay for when you sign up for a review service is access to all potential reviewers on its list.
Some of the review services will not deliver the goods. They tell a good story about the many reviews they have on their mailing list, but you won’t get the number of reviews you signed up for. These sites simply don’t have enough readers on their list to provide the reviews. Others, a small number, are just scam artists trying to rip off the authors.
Another strategy is to give away copies of your book, hopefully in exchange for a promise to review it. You can use your social media contacts here. Ask if anyone wants a free copy of an eBook review. I found this tactic ineffective. The main reason is that some people ask for a review copy just because it’s free and they have no intention of writing a review. Also, some readers won’t like the book and won’t write a negative review. My experience is that about 25% of those readers will write a review. However, eBooks cost you nothing to send to potential reviewers, so you incur no costs.
I’ve observed that many people don’t write reviews for books they like because they don’t know how to go about writing one. To alleviate this problem, I’ve crafted a series of questions to help readers write a short and simple book review. There are two versions: one for fiction and one for non-fiction. When asking someone to review your book or when sending an eBook copy for review, paste the questions into the email or you can create a document and attach it to the email.
Fiction Book Review Questionnaire:
1) On a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being the highest), how would you rate this book?
2) Did you like or dislike the book?
3) Please explain why you answered 2) the way you did.
If you liked the book, please answer the following questions:
4) Why did you like the book?
4) What didn’t you like about the book?
6) Did the main characters seem real and believable to you?
7) Did you want the book to continue beyond the end?
Use your answers to these questions to write a few sentences about the book. Tip: Don’t write a short synopsis.
As an example, here is a review I received for one of my novels:
I enjoyed reading “Falstaff’s Big Wager: A Fantasy Adventure to Turn Shakespeare in His Grave (Gundarland Stories, Book 2)”. The author has written a hilarious pamphlet and is a very entertaining read. I felt the author was very creative and familiar with the writings of Avon’s famous bard while writing this light, imaginative and delightful tale.
Non-Fiction Book Review Questionnaire:
1) How many stars, from 1 to 5, would you give this book? (Five is the highest rating)
2) What did you like about the book (if any)?
3) What did you dislike about the book (if any)?
4) Did you get the information promised by the author in the book’s blurb and other promotional materials?
5) Did the book contain information that you weren’t expecting or didn’t know about?
6) Would you recommend this book to others?
Use your answers to these questions to write a few sentences about the book.
Here is an example of a review for one of my non-fiction books:
FFilled with diagrams and written almost like a step-by-step guide for authors, “Creating Stories” is a must-read if you’re a new author or struggling to write your next novel. This is a guide for novelists and short story writers. It covers character development, plot development, and more. In fact, it even gets to the bottom of things. I like that it even touches the base of things like comedy writing and satire.
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