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Reviewers are worth their weight in gold - giving praise where praise is needed

We all need oxygen to live on this planet.  However, a writer needs something a little extra - praise.  Or, rather, reviews.

 

Reviews are a writer's life blood! 

 

Without reviews, a writer's work doesn't get noticed half as much.  What makes a person take the time out of their busy day to write a review?  Because, well first off, they liked it and ...

 

  • They appreciated the writer's effort to help make the reader's day all the better. 

  • They found the content interesting or enjoyable or possibly helped them to learn something new. 

  • The work inspired them to do something about making their own dreams come true or it could simply have been a piece of work that took their breath away. 

  • Or, they may have absolutely hated it!

 

Reasons for Reviews

Reviews help you as a writer get more publicity, particularly before a public appearance and in a media press release.  A review not only increases awareness of your work but helps others see it as valuable, credible and ethical. 

 

In effect, reviews can help you sell more books and as a result, give you more time to write more.   The reason for this is that people who read a review are more likely to buy the book hence, this increases your sales.  It's like a personal recommendation from someone who has 'experienced' the read before you.

 

Help each other

Writers can help other writers in this respect.  A writer knows how much valuable reviews are for their own work, so a savvy and, possibly more approachable, method of securing those reviews is to:

 

Give before you receive

A person who comments on how much they enjoyed a blog, an article you have written or even a radio interview you've given helps boost your sales.  Authors tend to appreciate people who are willing to share their views, their knowledge, and their skills (particularly if they spot an error/typo!). 

 

Once a person has made the effort to do a review for something they've read, you can assess what kind of progress your writing is making.

 

Keeping track

As a writer you need to keep a note of these reviews.  Make sure you not only keep a record of the quote, but also when and where it was posted and by who.  Keep a record of these reviews as they help you assess how well your writing is being perceived. 

 

Finding reviewers

Just as you, the writer, writes about topics you love, reviewers too tend to specialise.  As an author it is well to ask only those who are interested in your type of work.  For instance, there's no point in approaching a reviewer of say fictional love stories based around the theme of the Jewish faith if yours is a non-fiction tome on the topic of atrocities within the Catholic church.  Think of the oil and water analogy!

 

Most, but not all, reviewers do reviews for the love of the reading.  However, there are a host of professional reviewers who can be approached.  There are book bloggers and magazine/newspaper journalists who are always searching for a story to fill their pages.  To find these people do a Google search for these kindly folk or look at the 'top reviewers' of any bookselling website (like GoodReads, SmashWords, Barnes & Noble and Amazon).

I give in-depth book reviews.  Once I've sent them off to the publication who requested it, I post a select few on GoodReads.  My reviews tend to be requested via publications (magazines mostly) who want me to write a review on a book they intend to publicise in a following issue.  But I can also do yours if you wish - take a look at my freelance page.

 

Here are a couple of places where you can find professional reviewers:

 

http://absolutewrite.com/about/

 

http://indiereader.com/authorservices/indie-book-reviews/

 

When you approach a reviewer - look at what types of book they review, if it fits with your genre, then ask them politely.  If they are interested, then send them the information they need and have the following ready:

 

  • A PDF of your book (or sample chapters they've requested)

  • A copy of the cover

  • A print copy - if not released yet, this should be marked as a 'pre-release/un-edited' copy.

  • A press release that gives information on where the book is available, ISBN, titles and author bio.

  • A cover letter to introduce you and your work to the reviewer.

  • Photographs - of the book and your portrait

  • A time-frame

 

If you don't hear back from them, you are perfectly entitled to follow-up with an email prompt or a telephone call.  But please don't harass them.  They are busy people! 

 

Start by searching LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a professional site, so you won’t come across a teenager chatting about their favourite book.  You’ll get a bone fide professional who is truly interested in promoting a good read. 

 

If you are a member of LinkedIn, go to the search box and look for people with the title Reviewer in their job role.  

 

Once you’ve found these reviewers, make a pitch – then track that pitch.  If you haven’t heard back from them by the end of the week, you are perfectly entitled to make another enquiry.  Just be aware that they are extremely busy people, or they may not find your book a suitable fit for their requirements.

 

Build connections

Make ‘friends’ first.  Don’t just go in immediately with a query pitch that asks for a review of your book – unless of course, it’s a paid for service that the reviewer provides. 

 

You need to get to know them, build up the relationship.  You can do this by commenting on their posts, or following them.  If they have other social media channels, find out about them and get involved with their work.

 

The more you do to get to know them, the better chance you stand of securing their service for your book.

 

The pitch challenge

Asking a book reviewer for a review of your work has become a big challenge – even more so than securing an editor or publisher.

 

Find out what they want and how they prefer to receive your pitch.

 

Make sure you personalize your pitch – with their name/company – if you’ve gotten to know them, this should be easy.

 

Be kind, be brief with your book details, be polite, don’t demand and don’t expect a quick response.

 

 

Reviews on Amazon

Not everyone who buys your book will leave a review.  One way to secure a review is to ask for it.  Search for reviewers on Amazon by checking out the links to your book and seeing the list below where it says ‘customers who bought this have also bought …’.   Click on those book links and click on the reviews.  There is a possibility that you may need to sign in to your Amazon account and ‘follow’ these people, as not many reviewers are leaving contact details anymore (fear of spam is a big reason).

 

 

Giveaways

I’m an authorised author on GoodReads and have found the reviewers on this site are excellent people.  Lodge your book in the Giveaways section.  Ask the people who win your book to give an honest review. 

 

You can offer Giveaways/Freebies on your own author website in return for a review. 

 

A Review

Once you a review for your work, remember to thank the person who has done this task for you.  It's worth its weight in gold!  Their review may just help make the difference between a sale and a non-sale.  When a reviewer reads your book, it takes up their time and effort and - whether they like it or not.  And do the following:

 

  • Read their review carefully - take the time to consider their thoughts, their views, their commendations or otherwise. 

  • Select a small piece from the best review you receive and put it on the cover of your book.  Also, small pieces from other reviews can be put on the back of your book.  When you do this, tell the reviewer what you've done - to say that their name will be on the book.

  • Keep all the reviews and create a list of 'testimonials'

 

If a person who has purchased your book takes the time to write a review, you can use these too.  You can ask for reviews at the back of your book.  Encourage people to do this.  I work by the adage that "if you don't ask you don't get" and a review on a big book selling site encourages others to purchase your book.

 

Negative reviews

If it's a bad one, don't go away and cry or kick the cat - although you are perfectly entitled to (cry, not kick the cat!).  Just stand back from it, don't take it personally, look at it as a positive.  

 

Think of it as constructive feedback you can learn from. 

 

If you are still failing to see the positive in a negative review, think of these three valuable aspects:

 

  1. it can act as a catalyst to get you to hone your work and become a better author

  2. it can generate a backlash from those who don't agree, thereby that old adage 'there's no such thing as bad publicity' comes to mind 

  3. it adds to genuine feedback and people start to believe there is a good mix of honesty in the reviews that have been made

 

What to do

Put these reviews where people can see them.  Obviously, you won't have control over what gets put on a books sellers website, like Amazon.  But you can put them at the end of your bio, blog, articles, newsletters, web site - and also in or on the front of your book.

 

Any review you find someone has been kind enough to leave (even the bad ones - see above), you can use in a positive light on your press kit, press releases, presentations and public book signings.  Use them to help other writers.

 

Because authors are creative souls and, as a result, are sensitive creatures, a good review can make all the difference.  A reviewer’s comments, more often than not, make potential buyers pay attention.  As a result, their efforts make an author feel it is well worth the time and effort. 

Share

We probably don’t need to tell you this, but make sure when you get a good review – share it.  Share it on your social media pages and your website.  Make sure you give the name and web links of the reviewer – this is a professional and generous way of saying thank you publicly. 

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