Part of the Indie Author Series
Last month I talked about self-published book awards as one means to help build word of mouth and credibility for your book. Today I want to talk about another important method for letting readers know our book exists and (hopefully) that they’ll enjoy it—blog reviews.
I know blog tours have become a debated topic of late. Are they worth it? Aren’t they worth it?
In this post, I’m not talking about you running a blog tour where you do interviews and guest posts. I’m talking about approaching book review blogs to have them review your book.
If you follow these guidelines, you’ll increase both your chances of a review and your chances of a good review.
Rule #1 –Research every blog you’re thinking of submitting to.
Is the blog still active? Do they review indie books? Do they review your genre? Have they given positive reviews to books similar to yours in the past?
These are all important questions to know the answer to before we submit. If they’re no longer active or they don’t review indie books or our genre, we’ve wasted our time and money in submitting to them.
As importantly, if we know their tastes, we’ll know whether our book would be a good fit for them. For example, if the reviewer tends to give negative reviews to books with a lot of violence and our book has a fight scene in every other chapter, we’re setting ourselves up for a negative review by submitting to that reviewer.
Rule #2 – Follow their submission guidelines exactly.
Most book review blogs have a page that tells you what they’ll review, when they’re open to receiving books, whether they accept ebooks or only print copies, what to send with the book, what to put in the subject line of your email, and so on.
Do what they say.
We’re asking them to do us a favor and to give up 10+ hours of their time to read and review our book. Most of them don’t make any money from their reviews. They do it because they love books. We need to be respectful of them.
Those guidelines are there to allow them to review as efficiently as possible, and if we ignore them, it’s a fast-track to rejection.
(P.S. In case it wasn’t clear, you will need to send the reviewer a free copy of your book. Don’t expect them to buy a copy.)
Rule #3 –Personalize your emails.
The advice given to authors who want to traditionally publish about personalizing each email they send to agents holds true for book reviewers as well. No mass mailings allowed.
When we email a book blogger, we should make sure we know and use their name and that we can say something about their blog. Perhaps we let them know about a review we appreciated or that we follow them on Twitter. Whatever it is, we need to say something to make a personal connection and show that we took the time to learn about them.
Rule #4 – Don’t make demands.
You’ll be able to tell either from the policies page or from the past reviews what a reviewer does for reviews. And that’s what we should expect them to do for us.
They’re already doing us a favor in reviewing our book, and it’s rude of us to then ask them to do more for us than they regularly do during reviews.
Let me give you an example.
Say the reviewer usually only posts their review on their blog and on Amazon. That’s what we know we’re getting if we submit to them. We shouldn’t ask them to also post on Goodreads, and Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords, and Shelfari, and on and on. It might seem like that won’t take long, but if they don’t already have accounts or aren’t already familiar with those sites, it can add extra time they don’t have onto the review process.
Another example would be demanding that they review our book within a certain time frame. They might have a hundred books ahead of us in line, and life and a day job besides. It’s unfair to specify a deadline.
Making demands like these hurts our chances of building a relationship. Good reviews and good reviewers are gold. We should do our best to make them want to review for us again.
Rule #5 –Don’t comment on the post.
Before we finish, I need to address the elephant in the room—the possibility of negative reviews.
Some blogs will give you the courtesy of contacting you to let you decide whether or not they post their review if it’s going to be unflattering. Not every blog will. Which means you need to weigh the risk vs. the benefit of sending your book out to book review blogs.
As self-publishers, we’re in an unusual position. Our books haven’t been vetted by an agent and then by a publisher. In a future post, I’m going to talk about the steps to take to make sure our book is as strong as it can possibly be before sending it out into the world, but the judgment call about when our book is ready falls on us. And we’re not objective.
So, sending our book out for reviews is always going to be a risk. The important thing to remember is that, if we do receive negative reviews, we should never reply. Don’t reply thanking them. Don’t reply arguing with them.
In fact, do not comment on the post at all, even if the review is positive. Book review blogs are a safe space for readers. We don’t belong there.
When the book review goes live, instead send an email thanking the reviewer for their honest review.
What’s been your experience with reviews? If you’re someone who regularly reviews books for others, what are your recommendations or pet peeves?
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