Writing a book is hard work. As is marketing that book before and after launch. But when you distribute your book through Amazon, getting reviews may be the single most important thing to determine your book’s future success. There’s no secret formula, and no one way to garner the most reviews, but with a little research, a lot of patience, and a ton of outreach, those coveted reviews are but an email away.
Ask your existing readers or fan base
Whether you maintain a strong social media following, belong to many writing groups, or already have built-in readers from a previous book launch, your existing fans are your bread and butter. Since they already have an appreciation for you and your work, you are one step closer to converting them from fans to reviewers.
Now since they are already invested in you to a degree, they are also the best people to ask for a genuine review, the ones who buy your book on Amazon and review it. How do you get them to do this? Compose a strong email to them appealing to their passion for and knowledge of your genre, as well as their previous interest in your work. For some, that will be enough to pique their interest. For others, you may want to offer to supply them with the book for free. This way you are getting genuine reviews since the books were purchased through the site, but you haven’t required them to buy your book to do so.
Contact Amazon’s top reviewers
The top reviewers for Amazon have earned their status for a reason; they review everything from books to electronics, and other consumers rank their reviews as useful. While you might assume these reviewers are out of your reach—after all, they likely receive hundreds of requests a day—they are still worth contacting. Even if only a few end up reviewing your book, their reviews could make all the difference.
- To get started, decide how many reviews you are hoping to get. If you have your eye set on 25, you’ll want to reach out to at least 100 reviewers.
- Take a look through the list of Amazon’s top reviewers, and create a spreadsheet where you can start logging info about your potential reviewers. You are looking for reviewers who have already reviewed books in your genre, and once you’ve found them, any additional information you can grab about them, including email addresses, and any personal interests.
- Now, the art of the pitch. Spend time crafting a pitch letter that succinctly tells a brief summary of your book, why you’d like the specific reviewer to read it, and how you’d like to offer them a free copy. Include references to similar books they’ve already reviewed so they realize you have done your homework and it is not a blind request. If this seems too time consuming, create a boilerplate review request with highlighted fields for personalization, such as their name, and recent books they’ve reviewed. This way, you can update the highlighted fields to quickly personalize your pitch request for each reviewer.
- Follow-up is key. Every time you reach out to a reviewer, add the date to your excel spreadsheet so you can keep track of when you sent your letter, who says yes, who says no, and who never replies. Follow up two weeks after your initial request with a friendly and simple message asking if they have had a chance to read through your request and that you look forward to hearing back.
- 5. Close the deal. For those reviewers who do respond, make sure you are providing them with what they need (additional biographical info on you, previous works, whatever) and that you are timely in your communications back to them.
Get in touch with the book blogger community
Book bloggers have the uncanny ability to passionately and tirelessly spread the word about their views—and reviews. Unfortunately, many review books on their personal websites and blogs, and not all are posting those reviews (or variations thereof) on Amazon. But don’t let that stop you.
- Start by looking for bloggers who review titles in your genre. You can start with Google. If you’re writing a thriller, type thriller + book blogger into the search field and see what comes up.
- Next, go through the book blogger directories for WordPress and Blogmetrics.
- Just like with the Amazon top reviewers, you are looking to create a short list of reviewers who favor your genre, and who will welcome relevant pitches.
- Once you’ve got your list, go back to the boilerplate form letter you were using for the Amazon top reviewers. Tweak it a little, making sure to reference things spotted on the blogger’s pages, and adding any commonalities. Email them (if contact info is available on their site) or use the contact form on their site if available.
- As above, be professional in your follow-up activities.
While soliciting reviews can seem to take a lot of time and effort, their value cannot be underestimated. Reviews immediately add credibility to your book, communicating to potential customers that it is a worthy read. They also improve your book’s ranking when consumers are searching on Amazon, which is the primary reason to stay committed to getting reviews. If you’re able to move your title into earlier search pages, you’ll be discovered by readers who wouldn’t otherwise find you. And that, hopefully, will translate into more book sales.