If you’re anything like me, getting reviews is one of the more stressful aspects about being an author. However, it doesn’t always have to be. If you publish with a plan, it will make the experience run much more smoothly. That being said, if you’re reading this and thinking, “I already published my book!” that is okay. I’m going to be including some insight here for you too.
So let’s get started.
Today, I’m bringing you my 3 biggest tips for getting reader reviews. These are strategies I’ve used when publishing my own books over the past two years. They’ve worked for me, but you may need to adjust them to fit your own marketing plan.
Please note, we will not be covering editorial reviews in this blog, only reader reviews.
Tip #1: Start before you publish your book.
Once again, if you’ve already published a book, hang in there. I will get to you also. In the meantime, you can write this down for your future book releases.
Most authors, whether traditionally published or self-published, know that they need to have a launch plan for their book. Having a launch plan often includes a six-to-eight-week period where you are promoting your new book to readers after it comes out. A launch plan looks different for everyone, but this first tip should be a part of every launch plan.
BUILD A LAUNCH TEAM – Before publishing your book (and as part of your launch plan) you should be building a launch team. This is a group of readers who you are going to send Advanced Reader Copies (ARC) to in exchange for an honest review.
Important note: You are not paying these readers to read your book. That would be a breach in Amazon’s guidelines. You are providing readers with a free copy of the book you’ve written (digital or physical) and asking them if they’d be willing to write an honest review for you.
Some of you might be thinking you’ve tried this before, and it didn’t work out. My advice to you is try again. Make sure you keep track of which ARC readers worked out for you last time so that you can reach out to them again. Chances are, if you have 30 ARC readers, 15 of them will read and review the book. You can count on about half of them not writing a review so that you aren’t disappointed. Make sure to get as many readers as possible when building your team. I also recommend creating an automated email for your ARC readers. This can be done for free with Mailchimp or Mailerlite. Both are user-friendly and have plenty of tutorials online. This automation should be a series of 2-3 emails leading up to your book release and 2-3 emails following up after your book release. The best part is that AUTOMATED means once you’ve set the emails up, you don’t need to worry about them unless one of your ARC readers reaches out with questions.
In the first few emails, make sure you tell your readers why reviews are so important to you as an author, remind them how excited you are for them to read your book, and most importantly, THANK THEM for the time that they are taking to read and write you a review. In the follow-up emails, thank them again! And again! And again! Seriously, you should be thankful. These readers are the reason you’re going to make it as an author. Also, check in with them and ask them if they enjoyed the book or if they have any notes / feedback for you. Lastly, don’t chase people down whose reviews don’t pop up on your Amazon or Goodreads page. There could be multiple reasons they didn’t post a review, including that they may not have liked your book (that’s fine!) just let them be and focus on those who did leave reviews.
If you can establish a solid launch team before your book comes out, that is going to really boost your numbers on Amazon, Goodreads, and even BookBub!
BONUS: If your ARC readers are active on social media, create graphics that they can share to their social media profiles.
Tip #2: Schedule a Book Tour
Alright, so this tip can be used if you’ve already published! It also can be done virtually or in person.
Scheduling a virtual book tour will expose you to new readers all over the world. There are also many virtual book tours where you can provide your hosts with copies of the book, and they will review it along with sharing it to their social media profile. This option is not free. Usually, you are paying a Book Tour Company to run a book tour for you with several Instagram / Bookstagram accounts. I’ve done a few of these in the past and have found that they did boost my sales and result in a few more reviews. You must have the budget for it though; so this might not be something you want to do when you are publishing your first book since the ROI is not always high.
If you plan on doing an in-person book tour, there are a few steps you’ll need to take also. And again, this won’t be free. You’ll be spending money on gas to get to your locations, possibly on hotels to stay in, depending how far away the location is, and on supplies that you will have at your signings (i.e. bookmarks, posters, pens to sign books!) Make sure you budget before you start. Then do your research. There are more places to do book signings than just big-name bookstores. There are thousands of indie bookstores that you’d be able to find with a simple Google search. Research the ones that you think fit your book genre, create a sell-sheet, and reach out! It’s better to reach out in person, but that’s not always possible if you are not local. You can also reach out by email but try to get a contact person before you do so that your email feels personalized. You can also set up book signings in your local coffee shops, libraries, and schools (if your book is age appropriate). Make sure you advertise through social media and your author newsletter (if you have one, which I recommend you should) so that you bring readers out.
Scheduling a book tour is not a guarantee that you will get more reviews, but it’s exposure, which can in turn lead to more readers and more reviews.
Tip #3: Put a call to action at the end of your book
I’m surprised by how often authors miss this opportunity. If you’ve already published and you didn’t do this, I really recommend you go back and add it to your books. A call to action will remind readers when they finish the book that you’d love for them to write a review. It can be very simple. Ask them if they enjoyed the book and tell them where they can write reviews. If you’ve published an eBook you can even include the live links to your review pages to make it easier on them. If it’s a physical copy then they will need to make some effort to write the review, but if they loved the book and they see you asking for the review at the end, they are more likely to remember to write it right then.
You can also have a call to action that directs people to sign up for your author newsletter. I highly recommend offering a freebie to your newsletter subscribers. For me, I offer a prequel to my series. You could offer a deleted scene, character art, a map, etc. But offering SOMETHING will incentivize them to join your newsletter.
Bonus tip: If you create a specific landing page for people who sign up to your newsletter through the call to action in your book, you can create a welcome email that also asks them if they liked the book and reminds them that you’d love for them to write a review. Once again, make sure you thank your reader! Kindness goes a long way.
Remember, getting reviews takes time and a lot of patience. If one strategy doesn’t work for you, don’t give up. Look over what you did and see how you might be able to adjust it to make it work better next time. Reach out to other authors who you admire and ask them for their advice too. If you still aren’t sure what you’ve missed, look into whether your cover design, blurb, and opening chapters fit the market you are aiming for. That can often be a game changer in this business for getting readers.
Most importantly, you’ve got this! Just keep going.
Meet Skye Horn
Skye Horn is a Southern California fantasy author with more stories living in her mind than she will ever be able to tell—but she’s going to try. Skye has published four books under the bestselling Kingdoms of Faerie series and has her B.A. in English with a focus on Creative Writing from California State University, Northridge. When she’s not weaving romantic stories full of magic, myths, and legends for her readers, you can find her adventuring around the world with her husband, hiking near her mountain home with her two fur babies, or curled up by the fireplace with her nose in her favorite paperback. Skye is also a co-founder of The Writer Community and a freelance editor.