Getting Reviews

Reviews are important. Take a look at a brand new book on Amazon and when the bottom of the page doesn’t at least have some reviews, the page looks flat and unattractive. Find a page with hundreds of reviews and it’s more eye-catching.

The amazing thing about this is they don’t necessarily have to all be good reviews, either. In fact, if all of your reviews are 5-stars, then that looks a little suspicious. Like you asked both sets of grandparents and your mom to each right a review on Amazon. Of course they’re going to love it. Of course they’re going to boost your ego when they tell you. But they’re not the ones that should be leaving reviews on Amazon.

Not only do reviews give your book credibility as a sales page, but they help give readers an idea of what to expect from the book. Some readers like to read spoilers in reviews. Others (most) don’t.

While reviews are important to have on your page, getting them is a struggle in itself. Unless a reader is completely blown away by your book, they’re unlikely to leave a review. Some readers habitually leave reviews. Some just don’t think of it.

Amazon actually encourages readers to leave reviews after they’ve finished reading your book on a Kindle. That helps, but the conversion rate isn’t 100%. But there are some more places you can ask to help get some honest reviews:

  1. At the end of your book – The page after the story ends, ask readers to please leave an honest review online. Some authors put the review requests on the same page as the end of the story, but I think that’s too much. Do what you want with your book, though. It is, after all, your book.
  2. On your mailing list – When you encourage readers to buy your latest book, ask them to please consider leaving a review online.
  3. Social media – Remind readers that a free way they can help you out even after they’ve bought your book is to leave a review.

A fourth way to get reviews is to offer freebies. That’s a slippery slope because you don’t want to get carried away with giving your entire catalog away for free, but it could be a useful tool.

For example, I’ve been turning my books into audio regularly since I started publishing. Honestly, I didn’t know what to do with the promo codes. I gave away a few, but most were just sitting on a piece of paper pinned above my computer.

Then I decided to do something with them. I announced my latest audiobook to my mailing list and offered a giveaway: the first 40 people to reply and request one of my books would get an Audible copy for free. In reality, I had probably closer to 55 codes to use, but I figured 40 was a safe number.

This effort was beneficial for myself and the reader: they got a free book, and Audible counts it as a sale for me. Win win.

The response was better than I was expecting. I didn’t get 40 people, but I did get probably 30. I “sold” probably about 50 books. Since there were a lot of questions about what to read when, I was very liberal with my gifting. I had the codes, so why wouldn’t I use them?

The number of reviews I got are hard to track. But I did see a noticeable bump, mostly for The Full Moon, but Snow After Christmas and The Blood Moon both got their fair share.

The reason it’s hard to track is because I left it open. I said they could leave a review on Amazon, Audible, and/or Goodreads. Some people decided to post to all three, others chose one and only published their review there.

In the end, having reviews on all retailers is important. So even if I only reached 10 reviews on one book on Amazon, that’s okay. Across the board I have more.

Once I go wide with more of my books, I’ll have to think of different way to encourage reviews on the various retailers. For now, I’m happy with the result I got and will likely do it again. I’m also curious to see what my ACX report for April says.

A few tips:

  • Always ask for an honest review. And make sure they state that they received a copy in exchange for an honest review.
  • Follow through with your promises. If you promised to give readers book 2 if they reviewed book 1, give them book 2 even if they gave you a bad review.
  • Don’t be spammy. I think only about 40% of the people who I gave free books to actually left a review. Like I said, it’s hard to judge, but that would be my guess. In that time, I only sent out one reminder email and only responded to emails after they contacted me first.

So those are some ideas to gather some reviews for your books. Some folks have an advanced reader team, which I’ve been meaning to explore, but I just don’t have the time yet. I can definitely see the benefits of getting a bunch of reviews on release day and watching my book shoot up the charts. That’s something I’ll have to work on just as soon as I give myself some breathing room.

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