Wherever you find authors collected, the topic will come up: “Where do you get your book reviews?”
Word-of-mouth is considered the best tool to spread the word and make sales for your book; however, book reviews count for a lot, too. When you consider that Amazon considers review activity when selecting books for their promotional specials, you realize that word-of-mouth might not necessarily reach Jeff Bezos’ ears, so you beat the bushes for reviews.
Authors have two main questions when it comes to book reviews:
1) Where do you find the reviewers?
2) How do you get books to those reviewers once you find them?
Reviewers can come from anywhere. The well-known reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and the like handle mainly traditional books. Often there are costs to achieving these reviews in terms of payment, membership, or subscription. Indies have an uphill battle as do the smaller of the small presses. And you already know that competition is fierce, so assuming you can get some of these bigger sites to accept your book, the wait might be for months.
Consider these reviewers:
1) The Indie View – http://www.theindieview.com/
2) Omnimystery – http://www.mysteriousreviews.com/mysterious-reviews.html
3) NPR Books – http://www.npr.org/books/
4) Net Galley – https://www.netgalley.com/
5) eBook Crossroads – http://www.ebookcrossroads.com/book-reviewers.html
6) RT – http://www.rtbookreviews.com/
7) Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com
8) Midwest Book Reviewers – http://www.midwestbookreview.com
9) List of other reviewers on MBR – http://www.midwestbookreview.com/links/othr_rev.htm
10) Book Review – http://bookreview.com/$spindb.query.bottom.booknew
11) Publishers Weekly – http://www.publishersweekly.com/
Review copies are a hidden cost of publishing, whether traditional or indie. I’ve probably given away between 250 to 300 books in my efforts to seek reviews. Except for 50 ARCS my publisher gave me, I paid an author’s discount for those books. That’s creeping into the thousands of dollars. I keep anywhere from 20 to 100 of each title on standby for appearances, readers who email me wanting an autographed copy, or the sudden opportunity to hand someone my book and make a splash. There are always four or five copies in a satchel in my car.
Lessons I’ve learned about acquiring reviews?
1) Not everybody who offers to review the book will follow through. It stings, I know. And it can be anyone – a tenured professor from UNC, a childhood friend, your librarian, trusted peers, parents, amazing fans who profess to idolize but whom you never hear from again. That’s the business. You cannot make it personal. The best you can do is not let them review again.
2) People love the book or having met you, but their life is not you and your book. Their life takes them elsewhere, and reviews aren’t high on their list of things to do. . . unless that’s specifically what they do.
3) The cheaper the cost of the book, the less professional the reviews. Not a 100 percent maxim, but pretty close. There are readers out there who troll for free and 99-cent books, and they have no qualms about throwing nasty up on Amazon or Goodreads.
4) Many book reviews sites and professional reviewers ask for your book, but that doesn’t guarantee you will land a review. They take reviewers seriously, and often the better books consume their time. Remember, competition is fierce. Sometimes you don’t make the cut.
5) People are more likely to review a print book than an ebook. Your ebook is hidden amongst hundreds on a Kindle or Nook. Out of sight, out of mind. A print book has to sit someplace, chances are more visibly, giving your striking cover the opportunity to beckon the reader and remind them to read and review. And to a reviewer, a print book sometimes represents a more serious commitment from the author. Mailing a book is often a $10+ commitment.
Absolutely nothing is absolute in the publishing business. So when prepping for your book release, build the cost of review copies into your budget and know that you won’t get 100 percent return on your investment. And continue to hope that a few reviews become serious nuggets for your website, press releases, and maybe your cover.
BIO – C. Hope Clark is author of The Carolina Slade Mysteries and The Edisto Island Mysteries, both published by Bell Bridge Books. She is also founder of FundsforWriters.com and avid speaker at book clubs and writers groups. www.chopeclark.com / www.fundsforwriters.com