–Sondi Warner, Writer/Blogger for Wrought Iron Reads
When I became an indie author, I knew I needed to have a marketing plan in place to reach as many readers as possible, but none of my lofty “become a bestseller” ideas included leveraging the power of reviews. Whether reviews make much of a difference is debatable, but I still see many writers struggling to get those stars.
So, I did what I do best. I researched and pulled together this Review Touchdowns Playbook. See what plays are your strongest and where you might need to brush up on your A-game.
Make sure you develop a robust author platform to get the most out of these tips.
- Your star players are your beta readers. Draft your team by asking your closest friends to read first, with the understanding that everyone won’t give a firm yes. If you have to resort to begging, then the interest just may not be there, and you shouldn’t force the issue.
- Provide them a copy of your book in whatever format is best for their busy schedule. You can get Calibre for free to quickly and easily convert your file to a PDF for computer readers or EPUB or Mobi for friends who primarily use their phones for reading.
- Check in periodically and don’t forget to tell them when the book goes live so they can post their reviews.
- Use social media to find book lovers interested in getting a free read. Ask for email addresses to send them the file and a follow-up reminder to review the book when it goes live.
- Put up flyers in your home town recruiting beta readers. Get a free QR Code here and apply it to your flyer to give anyone who sees the fastest route to your website or sign-up form. Again, collecting email addresses upfront gives you a way to send them the file and follow up.
- Do all of the above, plus…
- Send out review requests to book blogs and BookTubers. Keep in mind, you’ll want to provide more than basic information about your book to entice reviewers to give it a chance. These lovely reviewers receive a LOT of requests, and to stand out from the crowd, you need to: Give a synopsis, book blurb, word count, genre and links where the book is available or a publication date if you haven’t yet published. Any other information the blogger asks for should also be provided, so do your homework.
Want a directory of book review blogs for indie authors? Try the Indie View.
If the feedback you’ve received from readers isn’t as positive as you had hoped, you may want to reconsider hitting the publish button and do some rewrites and edits where necessary.
- Place a “Review Me!” request in the front of your book reminding readers to review once they’re done reading. Sometimes a simple reminder is all it takes since most of us aren’t primed to rate things we use regularly. When was the last time you left a review for your favorite toothpaste or coffee brand?
- Place a link to a sign-up form for your newsletter or blog. Anyone who signs up can be sent an email reminder to review your book, and you can tell them about other books you already have or that will soon be available.
- Link up with fellow author buddies and bloggers to do author interviews to put a face to the byline. Foster a personal connection with your readers, and make sure to explain how much getting a review means to you and how you use such feedback to write better stories.
- Learn the power of free. Use giveaways to reach readers willing to try you out but not willing to risk losing money. You can’t force everyone who gets a free copy to review, but you can add the request for reviews in your advertisement about the free book. Your ad might look something like this:
- Do the above, plus…
- Provide thought-provoking questions at the end of your book to encourage book clubs to select your title. Instead of getting one review, you get plenty!
- Check out Amazon’s top reviewers. Pick a Top Reviewer, go to their Amazon profile and see what books they’ve reviewed. Is your book similar to books they’ve reviewed? Use the contact info provided to send them a message and find out if they accept unsolicited pitches. Back away if they don’t. If they do, provide a professional pitch, including a free copy of your book. Getting a Top Reviewer to review your book can potentially increase your review count by 25%.
Your work isn’t done just because you’ve hit publish.
Rookie: When the reviews start rolling in, say thanks. Post a thank you note across social media and on your website. For the friends and family members who reviewed your work, thank them directly, face-to-face when possible. Nothing like a chest bump after a good game.
Level Up: Thank your reviewers and recognize them personally. Post excerpts from your reviews across social media and on your website. This can encourage others to follow the example.
Expert: Provide an incentive. Include an “If, then…” page at the end of your book. For instance, “If I get 100 reviews, then I’ll release a free book on my site!” Or, “If I get 25 reviews, then I’ll host a live Periscope Meet & Greet!” This gives readers something to look forward to after posting a review.
Feel like you’re ready to put your book in the game? Leave a comment below. Tell me which plays you use or what works for you. #BookReviewPlays