One of the biggest challenges for indie authors is gathering reviews for their titles. Reviews are everywhere today. We count on them before we purchase almost anything. Cars, repair services, doctors, clothing, toys, and books. Everyone has an opinion and you'll find thoughtful and helpful reviews, but also mean-spirited ones, along with the bizarre. Once you have a product for sale to the public, it's fair game for reviewers. It's an integral part of marketing strategy for every vendor.
Readers love to see that a book has lots of reviews, which means it's been read by lots of people who actually cared enough to post their thoughts on Amazon or other sites. Book promotion sites usually have a minimum number of reviews required before they'll promote your book, which makes reviews crucial as well. Reviews have an influence on future sales and visibility in the marketplace.
So how does the process work?
1. You have to ask. Start with your readers. At the end of your book, make sure you add that request for a review. I love eNovelAuthorsatWork's blurb. Include the blurb in your newsletters to subscribers too.
2. Your beta readers or fan readers can also be asked. Provide them with a free copy of the book before you publish and reviews can be ready to go when the title is live. Be careful though and make sure reviewers indicate they've received an advance copy for their honest review. Check out Amazon's review policy to do it right. If these reviewers are posting to other websites, they should carefully follow the guidelines of the site for reviews.
3. Seek out bloggers or reviewers for your genre that follow the requirements of Amazon's guidelines. Choosy Bookworm, Library Thing, and others have programs that meet those guidelines. Paying for reviews is a big no-no on Amazon. Don't fall into that particular trap. If discovered, those reviews will be deleted and you may receive a warning or worse from Amazon. If you do purchase a professional review from Kirkus, the review can be used in the Editorial Review section of your book's page. It can't be posted with a rating as a reader can do so by logging into their account.
4. Check out a post from the other side of the fence. Julie Whiteley writes about book reviews from the reviewer's perspective. This is an excellent article and very helpful for writers in forming expectations about reviewers.
It's hard to accumulate reviews, although if you're fortunate enough to snag a Book Bub promo, you may end up with a ton. Reviews are all part of the business and my advice is to work hard to obtain them the right way. Good or bad, they're of value to you as a writer and to the buyer who's looking for the right book.
Maybe one percent of readers will leave a review, which is discouraging. Be prepared for one-star reviews as well as five. That's the tough part of being the public eye. The big guns have disparaging reviews as well as high praise. You're in good company.
With over 30 years in administration as a manager, paralegal, and administrative professional, my experience runs the gamut from finances, policy, contracts, and human resources. My goal is to help writers navigate the business side of writing with understandable and practical advice.