6 effective strategies to get your book reviewed

Reviews are your book's lifeline

With thousands of books published every day, how do readers choose what books to buy? That's where reviews become important, especially for self-published authors or writers who are published by small companies that don't have a big marketing budget.

Buyers rely on reviews to save time and money. Of course, for that to happen, reviews must be reliable. Amazon’s algorithms ensure that reviews posted on its pages do not break their rules. So it’s important that authors understand these criteria before they go about the essential task of getting their books reviewed.

Amazon’s review rules

The first rule is pretty obvious. Authors aren't allowed to pay anyone to review their books. This rule includes any kind of reward for a review. An author cannot, for example, provide a gift card for their book with the condition that the recipient write a good review. Nor should authors exchange favors – i.e. good reviews of each other’s books. All reviewers must provide (and be seen as providing) independent reviews, free of any influence. That is why family member should not review an author’s book, either. So, with all those caveats, how does an author go about getting people to review their book?

A free book gets you a free review

What you can do is offer readers free copies of your book in exchange for an honest review. Amazon allows this, but only persons who have already made a purchase on Amazon can post a review. This helps ensure that persons don’t open an Amazon account for the sole purpose of writing a glowing review.

Another strategy is to offer your book to Amazon Prime member free or at a special low price. This is an excellent marketing method to get people to buy more copies of your book. More importantly, you are getting the right type of people to buy your book. Amazon Prime members are more likely to be avid readers. Thus, if they like your book, they are more likely to post a review. And every good review helps get your book traction and sales.

How to find reviewers

Amazon doesn't provide any facility for authors to do giveaways in exchange for reviews. You can provide gift cards for reviewers to buy your book, but they can easily use the card to purchase something else. And, while you can provide a .mobi file to reviewers (Amazon allows this), not everyone will be reading on a Kindle. Also, if you've published your book with KDP and entered the KDP Select program, you can only send your .mobi file to professional reviewers. This is where websites like Instafreebie.com are useful. You can upload your book and set a total number of free downloads from the web site's link, as well as an expiry date. Five A Book allows both downloads and Amazon gift copies, so that site is useful if an author prefers to register in KDP Select.

Tap into readers’ databases

The author of the review can post the review even though the author paid for the review.. The quality of the review is high school report, thoughtful essay.

Another approach is to use Bookvertiser, which has a database of readers to send your book title to. These readers buy your book and write reviews. The sole condition is that your book must be priced at $2.99 or less. If you want to sell your book above that, you can pay the difference to the readers who want to write a review. It will still register as a verified purchase on Amazon.

Then there's Goodreads Giveaways, where you provide free copies of your book for a limited time, in the hope that some of the readers will write a review on Goodreads website or Amazon. The process is a little complicated, because Goodreads chooses Giveaway winners and then gives you as author their postal or email addresses to send copies to. You are not guaranteed a good review, or indeed any review at all. Worse yet, you may have to give a hundred copies to get even one or two reviews, since readers may take the freebies but never even read your book.

Amazon does allow writers to use reviews from book industry magazines and websites that authors pay to get their book reviewed. Unlike the Arts section of the New York Times or the Times Literary Supplement, you pay a fee, which can range from $400 to $900, and they then give your book to one of their reviewers.

However, as with Amazon, the reviews have to be reliable, which means you aren't paying for a favorable review - as the saying goes "You pays your money and you takes you chances". The only caveat is that, if the author objects to the review, they may not publish it or assign it to another reviewer who's more likely to give a positive review.

Use reviews to promote your book

Once you have the reviews, you can post excerpts on your Amazon Author Page or in your book. These reviews, which are called editorial reviews, actually carry more weight than customer reviews, in part because they're more prominently placed on the page and in part because they sound more authoritative.

As an author, reviews are your book's lifeline. The strategies outlined here are essential for keeping your work afloat. As you set about this task, keep in mind that not everybody is going to like your book but, the more reviews you get, the more positive ones you will have to promote your book.

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