With the recent controversy on the issue of reviews, triggered by Amazon’s decision to remove all of Christoph Fischer’s 1,700 reviews, it seems this is the issue of the day.
Contrary to popular belief, Amazon does not require that you’ve bought a book in order to review it. It does ask that you mention in your review if you haven’t, explaining how you came across it (usually with a simple “a copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review” statement at the end).
This myth is based on the fact that Amazon does require that you’ve bought at least one physical item from its shops before you’re allowed to place a review. This is to verify that you’re an actual human, with a valid physical address, instead of a robot, a troll or a spammer. Here’s the story from the horse’s mouth, as reported by Jackie Weger, who contacted Amazon with that very question:
“Yes, you may send the reviewers a copy of the original format of the eBook for example, MOBI, DOC, among others. I do want to let you know that this is at the publisher’s own risk and Amazon is not liable for any files that are sent, or the reviews given to the book if they meet our reviews guidelines. You may also “Gift” a Kindle book to those reviewers so that it can be downloaded to the reviewer’s Kindle device, or Kindle application. Furthermore, regarding any contest (or for example a raffle), we’ll take this as gifting as well, so all the above will apply if Authors decide to perform this market strategy. The tools, such as ‘Rafflecopter’, that could be used for this will also be under the Author’s personal choosing and responsibility of use.”
Now that’s been cleared, how can one go around securing these elusive reviews?
In her post, What Reviewers Want, Jackie Weger suggests that authors add the following line at the very end of their book:
Thank you for taking time to read [title]. If you enjoyed it, please consider telling your friends or posting a short review. Word of mouth is an author’s best friend and much appreciated.
Examples of people using this little trick to great effect include Mazie Baby, which drew above 300 reviews within weeks of the book coming off a promotion, and Pineapple Lies, a new 2015 release by Amy Vansant, with 270 reviews after its very first promotion. Jackie has also posted a couple of guest posts to present the reviewers’ point of view. They are both very useful:
She also recommends the following:
“Two promotion sites that have made it onto eNovel’s Above the Fold list are booktastik andBettyBookFreaks. Here is why: On a recent ten author/5 day tour. Dionne of booktastik promoted the tour on her site for free all five days. Dionne has also started streaming promotion results for transparency. That is the GOLD Standard.
Betty ofBettyBookFreaks grabbed our posts and was a Tweeting Wizard for our tour and promotion. They pay-it forward. We love ’em.
BookBarbarian has just made it to our Preferred list for Sci-fi and Fantasy. $8 for promotion and BookBarbarian streams results. Transparency. So has BookScream – which sends the author an indepth activity on a book promotion. These all are smaller sites with fewer subscribers, but the owners are doing it right.”
Book Reviewer Yellow Pages And More
My friend MMJaye posted an excellent resource the other day on the subject. The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages, now in its 6th edition, is a huge list of bloggers and reviewers (of all genres) listed alphabetically, which also specifies which genres the particular reviewer accepts.
Romance authors may also enlist the help of Tome Tender, a blog specializing in the genre. Strangely enough, they also review fantasy. Author Zed Amadeo also posted recently a great selection of review resources. He lists four of them in particular:
The eBook Author’s Corner
The eBook Author’s Corner has a great post with an overview of methods authors may use to find book reviewers: Getting Book Reviews: The Methods Award-Winning Authors Use. This post summarizes the experiences of 50 authors and serves as a helpful introduction to the process.
How to Get a Truckload of Book Reviews by Penny C. Sansevieri
This companion to How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload (you can read Zed’s review here) provides details on how to craft a pitch to send to bloggers who review books in your genre and how to ask readers to write a review.
In addition, Sansevieri’s guide suggests ways to tweak your site to make it easier for potential reviewers to find your book and how to run book giveaways.
How to Get Good Reviews on Amazon by Theo Rogers
How to Get Good Reviews on Amazon explains how to find reviewers of your genre on Amazon.com, while also providing illuminating information on the review culture as a whole and possible pitfalls to avoid when trying to get your book reviewed.
Reviewperstar by Buck Flogging
Reviewperstar: 12 Tasteful Ways to Get More Book Reviews describes how to utilize your email list to encourage subscribers to review your book.
This is a helpful resource for authors who already have a sizable audience, whether from blogging or previous publishing experience.
NAKED TRUTHS About Getting Book Reviews Kindle Edition by Gisela Hausmann
Getting Book Reviews: Easy, Ethical Strategies for Authors by Rayne Hall
You may remember Rayne Hall from my author feature. Or, you may have met her on Twitter, her preferred medium. She has literally written the book on the best ways to use Twitter – it’s called “Twitter for Writers” and is part of her celebrated Writer’s Craft series.
In November 2015, she had a terribly flattering suggestion for me. She told me she was writing a new book, this time on getting book reviews. She then asked me for a guest chapter. Naturally, I was happy to oblige, and the book was published a few days ago.
You can find out more about the book here, read what I thought of it, and read the first draft of my contribution (the final proof was somewhat altered).
Many thanks to Zed Amadeo for his suggestions. Be sure to check out the full post, Practical Writing Advice: How to Get Your Book Reviewed on his blog.
“Another way that worked for me was to use Goodreads to track reviewers of books that have the same trope or branding as mine (romances with a Greek setting or a Greek alpha male). After checking out their reviews (you don’t want to approach the snarky, over-criticizing ones) I messaged them, and most responded favorably. I got seven reviewers from one batch of messages this way.”
Author Micki Peluso has another tip:
“Whenever i review a book ( I am also a professional reviewer for publishing houses that mail me best sellers to review) the author almost always reads my book without my asking and writes a review. So for almost every review I write I get one in return.”
This is D. Wallace Peach’s tip:
“Goodreads also has a group where authors can offer books to readers interested in reviewing. I received ten requests for books that I sent out about a week ago.”
These updates are courtesy of Elle Boca:
- Zili in the Sky is not accepting new requests
- Neither is Karleigh Reads
- Just another girl and her books doesn’t accept ARCs for review
- Words We Heart is closed to indie authors for now.
- The Readers’ Hollow is not accepting requests until August 2015
- Jesse Kimmel Freeman only accepts print copies
- The Hard Cover Lover is not accepting requests at the moment
- The Best Books Ever do not accept indie or self published requests
- The Avid Book Collector does not accept any new requests
- Sobookalicious does not accept any requests
- Shell of Imagination is down, as is Kathryn’s Shelf of Books
- Latina Reading is not accepting review requests
- Reviews by Nadine hasn’t posted anything new since March 2015
- Contest Patti does not accept ebooks
- Walker Putsche is not accepting requests until at least October
- Prism Book Tours seems to sell tours instead of reviewing books, as does Masquerade Tours
- Mi vida impredecible is in Spanish