Wednesday, January 20, 2016

How to Find Book Reviewers for Your Wannabe Bestseller

Most authors know that book reviews are the stuff of dreams. If only I had 10 more reviews, you think, I could be selling a lot more books. You look at other books by nobody authors and wonder how they managed to get so many reviews on Amazon or GoodReads. Is my book so crummy and uninteresting that nobody wants to read it? If I wait long enough, will readers start typing up those reviews ASAP?

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I've been there. My 4th book, ACAPULCO NIGHTS, was released in September 2016. It was a labor of love. None of my books, even those published by traditional publishers, have done well. I just enjoy writing so much that my main goal is to write a new book, not get people to read it. If my writing were all about the sales, I would've quit a long time ago.

However, I will admit it is frustrating to spend a lot of time on writing, editing and designing a book cover then going through the process of formatting for Kindle, other e-book file types and print and ending up with minuscule sales numbers. Secretly, all of us authors are hoping that our book is amazing and will fly off the shelves.

The Big Lie: All of those reviews you see are spontaneous writings of excited fans.

The Truth: You need to request reviewers to review your book.

Now, of course, many reviews are happy readers wanting to express their unsolicited opinion about a book they read. And big-time authors for sure have lots and lots of spontaneous reviews written by fans.

But for us little guys, what do you think the odds are that some random person is going to find your book on Amazon just by clicking around? And then what are the odds that that random person is going to buy your book, read your book and post a review? That is a very rare person indeed.

I was ignorant of these things when I was first published. My first book, THE NINTH
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CURSE was published by a reputable small publisher, Samhain Publishing, and I really did think they would generate reviews and my presence on their website would be enough to get some decent sales. I was very very wrong.

Although I think I wrote a great book, it got very little notice. I even had a hard time getting friends and family to read it/review it. (I am not blaming my friends or family for this, but I'm just being honest. Even friends and family will not necessarily write you a glowing review!)

So, here I am a few years older and wiser, and I am starting to learn the truth. You need to reach out to bloggers and other reviewers and ask them to review your book.

So How Do I Do That?

1) Start with a review request letter. Introduce yourself and your book. Explain what you are looking for (a review). Discuss the genre, the audience, the length of your book, and add a blurb. Tell them what versions of your book are available (print or e-book) and provide links and contact information. 

This letter will be your 'base' letter that you will edit and alter depending on the interests, needs and requirements of the reviewer.

2) Research book reviewers. I know, I know, how do you do that? Just randomly search the internet? Here are a couple of ways you can find reviewers that might be interested in your book:
  • Any book blogs you might read. Start with what you know. Maybe there is a reviewer online who you already follow on Pinterest, Instagram or Facebook. 
  • Check out the resources in the Book Reviewer Yellow Pages.  This is a whole book updated every year with book reviewers, their likes and dislikes, how to contact them, etc. 
  • Go on Amazon. Look up books by well-known authors in your same genre. Look at the reviews. Try to find names of reviewers who have an Amazon ranking (Top 100 or Top 1000 reviewer, for example) and look at their Amazon page by clicking on the link. Most of them will have a contact email or a link to a website. 
  • Other Authors. If you have online friendships with any authors (big or small), ask them to do a review exchange. You'll read and review their book, if they will do the same for you.
 These are just a few ideas. I am sure once you get started, you will think of other ways to find book reviewers.

3) Tailor your review request letter to match what the reviewer wants to know. If there are no guidelines to find on a website or Amazon page, try mentioning where you found their name and why you think they might be interested in reading your book. Make it personal!

4) Be prepared to provide a free copy of your book to the reviewer. Many book reviewers write reviews because they love to read, not because they have huge book budgets to spend on random books. As a writer, you need to be prepared to invest in yourself and hand out free copies.

5) Be patient. Many book reviewers will tell you they are months behind. Don't bother the reviewer once you've sent the free copy. They are doing you a favor by reading your book. If you haven't seen a review posted in about 6 months' time, and if the reviewer did not give you an idea of when your book review might be available, perhaps contact the reviewer with a gentle reminder about your book. Don't be a pain in the butt!

What Can You Expect?

Just to give you an idea...for my book, ACAPULCO NIGHTS, I contacted 75 different book reviewers. Most of them never even responded to my request, which I took to mean 'not interested.' Out of the 75 I contacted, 12 said they would review my book. So realize it takes a lot of time and effort to get someone interested in your book!

I am still waiting on most of these reviewers to find time to read my book. Four  of them have posted reviews since I started this process in late September. I am planning on contacting some more reviewers, but it does take time to track them down, contact and wait for a response.

Have you found a good source for book reviewers? Or do you have a question for me about this topic? Leave a comment below!

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