Reviews for books, especially self-published ones, are crucial for authors. How books can launch with a host of reviews was always a great mystery to me, and so launching with reviews was something I failed on. I launched with no reviews, which impacted sales negatively, and it was an uphill battle to start getting reviews months after publication.
In the pre-publish period, find readers willing to read an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) in exchange for posting a review. They can be friends and family (Amazon will not allow someone who has the same last name as you post a review though) who have read your book. You can also find readers on the web, or on Twitter. There are people out there who love reading and would love to read your book for free in exchange for writing a review. Use social media to find writing communities and other indie authors so you can trade ARCs and reviews.
The other best place to find reviews is through sites that connect reviewers and authors. NetGalley is the leading review site, and I’ll warn you, it’s not cheap. A six-month standard title listing will set you back $450, and you can purchase a package that includes marketing (I didn’t bother with that). Your title will be available to reviewers on NetGalley for 6 months. You can allow anyone who wants to read/review download your ARC/galley copy, or you can manually approve each person. Each profile has scores on their feedback rates, so you may not want to let a copy out to someone with a low score.
Also, each profile is in one of five categories:
- Media Professionals
So, if you don’t want to let an educator read your book for whatever reason. You can decline them.
One I was on, I approved everyone. I wanted to get as many reviews as I could. Fifty reviews was my goal. It’s never been confirmed, but there is a rumour that once you hit fifty reviews the Amazon algorithm will promote your book more.
Reviewers will leave a review on your book’s NetGalley page, you will receive an email each time a review is complete. They won’t be able to post them on Amazon until it’s live, but you can include them in review section through Amazon Author Central. You will be able to access their profile and email address. Save their email addresses in a list, and on publication day email each of them individually thanking them for taking the time to read your book and write a review. Tell them that your book is now live on Amazon and if they could post their review there. (And if they can, on Goodreads – more on this next.) Thank them again.
Be warned though, these reviews are real reviews so if someone does not like your book, they will leave a bad review. If someone gives you a bad review, just ignore it. Do not email them to tell them what you think and, obviously, do not ask them to post their review online.
When you enter some contests (more on this later) they may give you a review as part of your entry.
As they have the most credibility, use these, and your best NetGalley Reviews on the Editorial Reviews section of your Amazon Author Central profile. These will show up on your book’s Amazon page.
NetGalley is the best review service, but not the only one. Do your research and check out Booktasters, Booksirens, Reading Deals, Inbound Books, and Reedsy’s review service.
You can also invest in credible reviews from Kirkus Indie Reviews, IndieReader, Self Publishing Reviews, and Blue Ink Review, but these will cost you anywhere between $100-$500 for a single review and a positive review is not guaranteed. These do tend to be very in-depth, and if you get a positive review it will add weight and credibility to your reviews. I did not go this route and have no regrets the competition route was better bang for my buck.
If you have any other tips for getting reviews, please leave them in the comments section!