Reviews are gold when it comes to drumming up sales for your self-published novel. Keep in mind that reviews are actually a form of marketing copy, and recommendations from fellow readers may be that little push that will encourage an undecided reader to purchase your book. It’s not always easy to accumulate reviews, however, and unfortunately not everyone who reads your book takes the time to review it. It’s therefore necessary to play a numbers game to ensure that you have a decent amount of reviews and ratings on platforms like Goodreads and Amazon.

Let’s look at some ways of getting reviews for your book:

Send out complimentary copies to friends and family:
This is probably the most common way of getting reviews, but remember to give your reviewers enough time to read your novel so that you can start collecting their reviews well before launch day. Side note: Be cautious with this strategy, as Amazon has a system for vetting reviews and will delete ones it deems not to be genuine. For example, it can detect if multiple reviews were posted for the same book from the same computer or internet connection.

Use your virtual book tour to get reviews:
Most (if not all) bloggers on your virtual tour will be more than happy to give you a review – after all, they have already read your book. We talk more about virtual book tours here.

Make it easy for your readers to review your book:
So many authors forget to do this, but placing a link to your Amazon or iBookstore page within your book can be the little nudge a reader will need to go and leave a review. It’s so easy to implement in ebooks as chances are that your readers are already connected to the internet, so clicking through to leave a review (while your book is still fresh in their minds) won’t take much effort. Put a request for a review at the beginning of your book as well as at the end, as this will get your reader thinking about a review subconsciously before they have even started reading the actual book. Word of warning: If you are going to include links in your ebooks and you are selling on both Amazon and the Apple iBookstore, then make sure you don’t have a link to Amazon in your iBooks version. Apple (correctly) sees Amazon as a huge competitor and will reject your book from its store if it detects a link to them.

Contact Amazon’s top reviewers:
Amazon very helpfully lists the most active and prolific reviewers on their site, so you may want to consider contacting a few of them and offering a free copy of your novel in exchange for their review. The top reviewers are often inundated with requests, so make sure that you write a persuasive pitch and follow up with them. It’s also a good idea to contact reviewers who are active in your particular genre, as they’re more likely to take you up on your offer.

Leverage your email newsletter and social media presence:
Don’t be a nag, but regularly remind your newsletter subscribers and social media followers that you’d appreciate it if they left a review for your book. Holding a book giveaway is also a good way to secure a couple of extra reviews – if someone has won your novel in a giveaway, they’re more likely to repay in kind by leaving a review.

Dealing with negative reviews

A negative review or two is inevitable – but if you’re not expecting them, they can prove to be a real blow. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Mentally prepare yourself: You can’t please everyone, and there are some incredibly angry and bitter people on the internet, so be prepared for at least a few negative reviews. Don’t let them get you down.
  • Stay calm: Don’t react or try to engage with reviews which were obviously written in anger, or by people who have clearly not read the book.
  • Take note of constructive feedback: If reviewers take the time to give constructive feedback, then take note of it and, especially if the same sort of comment comes up again and again, consider implementing their suggestions. After all, that is the beauty of self-publishing – you can make changes to your book at any time.

How do you go about getting reviews for your books? Have you ever gotten a negative review on one of your books? Share your stories below.