If you are a writer wondering how to get reviews, author Nina Romano demystifies the process in this guest post. (Scroll down for her bio).
For published or unpublished authors it can really be a challenge to obtain book reviews—you know those darling little things with stars and someone’s opinion of your book? There isn’t an easy formula to follow, and you have to cover many bases, but there are initiatives you can take in order to get readers to notice and buy your book and then review it.
If you have money to blow, you can find this information at Kirkus and pay them for a book review that they say will benefit your career. At this Kirkus site below you’ll find a way to purchase a book review for $425 that they say will basically give you an “opportunity to build some name recognition and get noticed by agents, publishers and other industry influencers.”
Does this mean that Kirkus is promising a great review of your book even if it is merely mediocre? I don’t know.
Not everyone has this kind of money at their disposal, or willing to take a chance the review may be extremely beneficial or maybe even harmful.
Amazon has what they call VINE readers—however, I’m sorry to say that I’m not versed in this—I haven’t a clue how it works, but you can Google about it. I went to this one site here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/vine/help
But since I’m not interested in becoming a Vine reader/reviewer or getting any of their reviews, I’ve never pursued it.
However, dear author, you’ve got a product—your great little novel in hand and now you want book reviews for it. Read this:
“How to Get Reviews For Your Book (Without Begging, Bribing or Resorting to Subterfuge)” an article written February 9, 2014 by Kimberley Grabas here: https://www.yourwriterplatform.com/get-reviews-for-your-book/
What else can you do to get book reviews on Amazon, Goodreads and other sites?
Open up a Goodreads account and list your book (s) and an author’s bio on it and get your books onto Barnes & Noble online, onto Amazon, most especially because it is a GIANT in the publishing industry today. Make sure you write an author’s bio for them. In fact, get your author’s bios published wherever you can. Try Wikipedia.
Now a little word of caution as to getting reviews on Amazon—they’d better be authentic. Never pay people to review for you—these reviews can be spotted and will be deleted. Also, no two people in the same household can review for you. I learned this the hard way—they deleted both reviews—doesn’t matter that both people read and loved the book! If Amazon suspects you know the person, they have and will, delete reviews. I’ve had honest reviews written by people I’ve never met and they have been deleted by Amazon—you can write protest letters till you turn pomegranate red—they’ve set themselves up as judge and jury, and they will not reinstate the deleted review! Trust me, folks! I’ve sent them a stack of letters—it’s a waste of your precious time. Don’t bother!
Read this piece below from Publisher’s Weekly “The Indie Author’s Guide to Free Reviews”
Here is some of my personal experience. Through my publisher and an overpaid publicist—I don’t recommend hiring a publicist for beginners or even established, published authors unless your name is Dan Brown—I was able to send out many review copies—either in hard copy ARCs (Advanced Readers Copies) or E-copies. My publisher paid for these. The publicist was given twenty-five paperback copies from my publisher! one of which she kept for herself. If I remember correctly she even sent out some e-copies.
Did all of these outlets respond? No way. Probably not even half. But some will. If your publisher is willing, write them a list of names and places (reviewing sites) you want the review copies to be sent. If not, purchase copies of your book and send them out to reviewers. Ask other authors where they sent their books. Too shy for that? Get over it! Try to get the books in hand to send out at least two months or more before the book is released. As I said, some will respond, others won’t, but that’s the chance you take when you invest your money into review copies if your publisher can’t or won’t.
What other things did I employ to get my name and titles in the news? I got onto a half hour program at a Public TV station and was interviewed on “Between the Covers.” Just so you know, here’s an example of how difficult marketing is and getting reviews can be. There were over sixty people in the audience. The hostess complimented me and said I did a great job. So how many books were sold? Exactly three copies and one of them was purchased by a friend.
However, that appearance did lead me to get into an independent bookstore with my novels and one of those novels was chosen for the store’s book club! Ask your local independent bookstores to do readings, panel discussions, presentations, signings, “meet and greets.”
So what I’m saying is you need to push yourself out there—show up, be personable even when you want to cry, and every person walks out of your talk or book reading without buying a single, solitary copy of your book, or no one shows up for your book signing! YOU SHOW UP. SMILE, and suck it up, baby.
Speak cordially to the owner of the store with thanks and an open heart, and you talk with the sales people and ask for their support. Bring copies of your books as gifts for these people! I not only gave away copies of my novels, but I also gifted many a copy of my poetry collections, my short story collection and even the cooperative nonfiction book, Writing in a Changing World that I wrote with my ex writing group. You need to be as generous as you can when asking favors.
I actually brought my new autographed novel to Mitchell Kaplan, of Books & Books in Miami, and asked him if I could do a presentation in the Miami Book Fair International—and that, folks, is the absolute truth of how I was able to present my entire trilogy over a two-year period!
Once the book is published send it to Book Contests—if your publisher will put up the dime, great—if not, guess what? You’d be smart to do it if you have faith in your work. Why? Because getting a little bit of “bling” on one of the covers of your books is a great selling point. And many of these book contests offer reviews in their magazines.
Each book of my Wayfarer Trilogy was a finalist in some book contest—being a finalist is like saying, “Nominated for an Academy Award”—didn’t win, but nominated is up there: FINALIST=a bit of clout! The first book in the trilogy, The Secret Language of Woman, was not only a finalist twice, it also won an IPPY gold medal—Independent Publishers Award. There’s the BLING! on the book which helps marketing and getting reviews.
Also join writing organizations like: Mystery Writers of America, Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America, etc. they usually publish reviews. I belong to the Historical Novel Society—my first book got a great review, the second was scorched because and, this shocked me, a writer of a different kind of historical novel—British stuffy stuff—wrote a scathing, and may I use this “H” word: horrible review. Personally, I would never do that to another author—EVER! So remember that when you’re penning a review—seek out the good in the book and stress that—be kind, because it’ll be your turn soon to be on the receiving end.
Many authors do blog tours—try and get your work onto someone’s blog site. I sent blogs to my publisher, to conferences for their websites, and I published blogs about writing on my own website. I wrote articles and submitted them to a local magazine published in my town. They actually published two of my articles and also wrote an article about me and two other authors because we were invited to participate in a library event in Lighthouse Point—a panel discussion!
Donate your published books to libraries. If you know anyone who writes for the Library Journal ask to have your book reviewed in it—by all means solicit them. I was fortunate once to have been picked up by a lovely journalist for one of my poetry collections, but my novels—no go!
If you have the credentials, teach workshops and seminars in writing conferences. Once you have a captured audience and you’re on a one on one with people it’s easier to say, “My books are on sale here, there, and Amazon!” Or: “Buy my book. You’ll love it!” Go to independent book stores and bring your books. Give the owner a signed copy! Try to get an appearance either by yourself or with another author. Leave books on consignment. Not only bookstores, but any little gift shop in your neighborhood if you think they’ll be willing to showcase your books!
When my first novel started selling I asked, cajoled, begged anyone I knew who’d purchased my book to review it on Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes & Noble. I went to Barnes & Noble stores and spoke to managers and got my books into stores—but as far as I’m concerned it’s easier to sell a book where no other books are—not where there are abundant choices of thousands of books. Now I ask readers to leave reviews on BookBub.com, which I find to be a good venue for authors…join, it’s free. You get to leave a bio on your profile page, as you do on amazon and Goodreads.
You can also try to get your books into book clubs and be willing to address the group. I’ve done many of these—some are profitable and some won’t buy or read your book, but show up for your talk or Q & A. I think it’s worth the effort to get more exposure.
You’ll find some of your friends and even relatives will betray you! They won’t buy the book let alone write a review for you. Or even worse, they’ll give you three or four stars when complete strangers are giving you five. Jealousy and human nature are at play here, so do be careful who you ask. I can speak with the voice of experience that even so called friends may not support you. Get over it and on to the next thing. You’ve got to take rejection in all forms if you’re going to be a writer.
So how do I get reviews now? Good question!
I’ve found that Facebook has done nothing for me in the way of securing readers or reviewers—other writers swear by it. I only post things on Facebook about my appearances, articles, reviews, or blogs about my book, and any awards. I like Twitter. You need to be on some social media—why not this one?
On Twitter you meet and greet so many people in your profession, so it’s easy to make connections. What do these connections yield for the writer?
I joined Twitter in 2014 and now have 24,100 followers—none of them paid for. I contacted one gal who retweets for me—the cost to make book banners was so unbelievably inexpensive, I couldn’t resist. I hired her to tweet my banners for a year—there are many willing to advertise for you on Twitter. Do these pay off? I can’t really say. What I can attest to is that more Twitter folk view tweets about books and it also gives a writer more visibility. That’s a plus as far as I’m concerned.
There are many of these little advertisers on Twitter. Select one, if you need or want to. I like working with the one I use because she’s generous and has given me tons of promo information. You need to make connections. It’s a positive way to “network” and I’ve made many lovely friends, acquaintances, links, and associates.
I also connected with an author who animates book covers—these grab more attention than plain ones—this I can guarantee. Whether they help to sell your books or not, is another question. Not sure, but at least my name is getting out into the public. I also had one video trailer made of my first novel, because I would like to do this for the succeeding ones. This, for sure is an eye-catcher and not exorbitantly expensive. At this point you’re wondering as I have many times—what’ the point of advertising it’s almost better to buy your own books and give them away—
I’ve done this as well, but most oftentimes it’s disappointing as the person gifted the book usually doesn’t read it. Shocking, but true.
What I can attest to is this: I’ve sold over four dozen print books and many, many more e-books on Twitter. From these, I have gathered numerous, beautiful book reviews; and have had articles, blogs, and scores of interviews published. I also connected with a publisher and two of my short stories were sold as e-books. That company closed its doors, but I was sent the two entire formatted books and covers if I even decide to publish them independently. One of these stories was included in a Christmas anthology along with two of my poems, and is still selling on Amazon.
There is the possibility to make audiobooks of these independently published books as well. Some are costly—that’s why I haven’t invested in it. Some traditional publishers do this—I’ve not been lucky with mine. There are some voice actors who will partner up with the author. I , honestly know nothing about this.
When a reviewer from Twitter has posted their review on their personal website or blog, I ask them to also put it on Amazon, Goodreads, and BookBub.com. Some will and some won’t. You still can get more mileage from the review by “tweeting” and “retweeting” about it, and by thanking the reviewer. Also post something about the review on Facebook. I personally like Book.bub.com and Goodreads because it has a SHARE button on it and you can post the review/recommendation to Twitter and to Facebook! Perhaps other social media which I’m unfamiliar with.
Carry books with you. Always! Everywhere you go. Keep them in your car trunk! Or as the Brits say, the boot! Have business cards and or bookmarks with you at all times. Introduce yourself—be polite! Hand the person one of these and ask the person to please be so kind as to review the book if they purchase it. You can have an email list and write friends and basically do what I call “guerilla marketing:” ask them straight out to support you and to buy your book, and of course, leave a customer review.
Newsletters are a great incentive for readers/writers to follow your blog and website. You can have postcards made up with the cover of your book and a little excerpt on them to send out to a list of people. You can do book giveaways—I’ve only done these on Goodreads, but now I believe they are expensive to do. Don’t be afraid to give away copies of your books in exchange for a valid review.
I wish you all Godspeed on your journey to a modicum of writing success, much happiness in your chosen field, and bountiful book reviews!
This article first appeared on @susanmarymalone Susan Mary Malone’s Website in blog format
Amazon Author: https://amzn.to/2SUamoF
The following three books are in hard cover, softcover print, and Kindle
Amazon: The Secret Language of Women https://amzn.to/2MQZpNC
Amazon: Lemon Blossoms https://amzn.to/2TWqzYt
Amazon: In America https://amzn.to/2Hl2VzT
The following book is available in softcover print, and Kindle
Amazon: The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley https://amzn.to/2Mawrvv
Nina Romano earned a B.S. from Ithaca College, an M.A. from Adelphi University and a B.A. and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from FIU. A world traveler and lover of history, she lived in Rome, Italy, for twenty years, and is fluent in Italian and Spanish. She has taught English and Literature as an Adjunct Professor at St. Thomas University, Miami, and has facilitated numerous Creative Writing and Poetry Workshops at Writing Conferences throughout the States.
Romano has authored a short story collection, The Other Side of the Gates, and has had five poetry collections and two poetry chapbooks published traditionally with independent publishers. She co-authored a nonfiction book: Writing in a Changing World, and has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize in Poetry.
Nina Romano’s historical Wayfarer Trilogy has been published from Turner Publishing. The Secret Language of Women, Book #1, was a Foreword Reviews Book Award Finalist and Gold Medal winner of the Independent Publisher’s 2016 IPPY Book Award. Lemon Blossoms, Book # 2, was a Foreword Reviews Book Award Finalist, and In America, Book #3, was a finalist in Chanticleer Media’s Chatelaine Book Awards.
Her Western Historical Romance, The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley, a semifinalist for the Laramie Book Awards, has been released from Prairie Rose Publications.
Her novel, Dark Eyes, an historical thriller set in Soviet Russia, is forthcoming in 2021 from Speaking Volumes, LLC.