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.
About a month ago, 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 below, read what I thought of it, and read the first draft of my contribution (the final proof was somewhat altered).
Getting Book Reviews: Easy, Ethical Strategies for Authors
Reviews help sell books.
When browsing online for their next read, most readers are drawn to the books with many reviews. More and more readers glance at what other readers have to say about a book before they hit the ‘buy now’ button. The more people have read and liked the book, the more they want to experience it for themselves. This is a known psychological factor called ‘social evidence’, and it plays a big role in purchasing decisions.
The more reviews your book has, the better, especially if they are genuine, personal, thoughtful and positive. Reviews can multiply your sales and catapult your book to the top of bestseller lists – but how do you get them?
Perhaps you’re a new author and can’t get those crucial early reviews to start the train rolling. Maybe you’re a seasoned author and your books have garnered reviews, but but not as many as you need to break out. Or perhaps you’ve gone the corporate publishing route, and find that your publisher’s publicist isn’t getting your book the attention it needs.
This book shows you many proven strategies to get the reviews your book deserves. Instead of urging you to labour through tedious, spirit-draining procedures, I’ll reveal quick, fun, empowering tricks.
All my suggestions are legitimate and ethical. In this book you won’t find methods for manipulating, faking and cheating. Strengthen your readers’ bond with you, don’t sabotage it.
Most of the methods I suggest are free, although some incur expenses. You will definitely need to spend time. You can apply them all these techniques, or cherry-pick the ones you like now and keep the rest for another time or a different book.
At the end of most chapters, I’m sharing mistakes I made and learnt from. They all seemed a good idea at the time.
As always, Rayne has some practical, down-to-Earth advice to offer. From giveaways to review agencies (yes, they exist – which was news to me), she has tried all the ways I could think of to gain reviews – and some that hadn’t occurred to me. She doesn’t shy away from sharing both her successes and mistakes, which means I spent a lot of time nodding with sympathy. And some time cringing over past mistakes I’ve made.
Furthermore, she never strays from the straight and narrow. More importantly, she explains clearly what the pitfalls of doing so entail – and what happened when she did stray.
She also has some practical advice on things like how to write a cover letter, a sample email to send to reviewers and tips on sending your book after a giveaway.
For me, the best part was Chapter 19 – funny negative reviews – whence these gems:
This book is too long. I had to spend many hours reading it. I’m busy and have other things to do.
The character of Queen Matilda is not believable.”
(There’s no Queen Matilda in the book)
The women in this story are not as obedient as the Bible says women were in those days.
The vampires in this book aren’t like Edward Cullen. Most of them totally creep me out.
There is also an excerpt of Rayne’s book, “Why does my book not sell? 20 simple fixes.”
As a contributor to the book, I received a free copy with no obligation to post a review. And yet, I have. Which means that Rayne’s suggestion work 😉
Back in 1995, I was serving my two-year military service in a naval base in Athens. We were a small unit—maybe 200 men. One day, MPs picked up one of us. Someone I’d just had lunch with the previous day. Turns out he was a serial killer, who had ritualistically murdered two women and was searching for his next victim.
That was pretty bloody scary.
And yet, it’s a close second to putting my books out there for the world to read and review.
A friend likens the experience to running naked in the middle of town, shouting, “Wee, look at me!” And yet, that’s what we do every time we publish a new book or post a new article.
It does get easier with time. That first scathing review hurts. It stays in your head for days. Weeks. Even months. But eventually you learn to move on, and focus on the positive ones. Then, someone will tell you how your words touched them. Your spirits will soar for a while. The world will smile again.
Reviews can be the greatest and scariest thing on Earth—at once. In fact, I can only think of a single thing even scarier than them: having no reviews.
That’s when you start thinking, “did everyone hate it, but were too polite to say anything?” And you consider buying reviews off Fiverr or any other place you can think of.
If that’s the case, please, don’t. Amazon has started suing people offering reviews for sale, but that’s not the reason why you shouldn’t do it. In truth, reviews are pretty simple, once you have built a platform. In other words, when you have started interacting with readers and writers.
You can use any social medium for that. Twitter is a great one, and Rayne has written pretty much the book on how to use it properly. Personally, I prefer my blog, nicholasrossis.me. That is where I announce giveaways, and offer free books to anyone willing to review. This has played a big part in my books having hundreds of reviews in total.
When I first published my award-winning children’s book, Runaway Smile, I wanted to generate a lot of reviews in as short a time as possible. So, I posted all of its pages as images on my blog (it’s a short book). I finished that blog post with the following:
If you enjoyed my book, I would really appreciate an Amazon review! If you really liked it, then please share with your friends – or even get a copy for you or the wee ones in your life on Amazon or Createspace 🙂
I got some 30 reviews within a month.
I regularly use giveaways and free days to promote my books. Part of the reason why they generate a lot of reviews is this little prompt that I include at the end of all of my books:
Thank you for taking the time to read my book! 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.
This is the very last thing people read before shutting the book. I’m convinced it has helped me greatly in my quest for reviews.
Finally, a word of warning: asking your friends for reviews is one thing. Asking strangers, is just plain wrong. So, whatever you do, the one thing that will not generate you any reviews is an automatic response to your followers asking them to read and review your work.