For writers: how to get reviews on your books in 2016

When I first started writing and publishing, it used to be that you got your first reviews from a few author friends, and then you might run a giveaway at LibraryThing and you might contact some book bloggers to see if they would review the book.

However, Amazon has clamped down on the first option. Reviews by what Amazon considers friends (including Facebook friends!) are routinely removed. I used to get a decent (meaning: about 10%) response at LibraryThing, but lately, that site seems full of people who just want the free book and don’t review. Many book bloggers have closed their doors to submissions, especially by self-published authors, after some deplorably stupid author behaviour and also because they’re just over-booked. The sites that are still open are usually the smaller ones that don’t have a big audience. Besides, writing to book blog sites and waiting for their non-replies is time-consuming and frustrating.

Often, too, those reviews will end up sounding like they’ve been written through clenched teeth. It starts off with “I received this book in exchange for an honest review”, which is a mandatory declaration.

The review will often continue with “This is not my usual genre…”. Many reviews will be a dry summary of the plot. Sure, it helps to get your review count up, but do you really want too many reviews like that? Also because these reviews will show up as “unverified purchase” on your Amazon page.

My thought to that is: No. Not really.

What sort of reviews do you want? Well, ideally, they would be reviews from people who read the book, and who, afterwards, felt passionate enough to want to say something about it.

The solution, then, is easy: put a lot of books in readers’ hands. Run specials, make the book free, advertise it like hell. You get on average 1 review per 100 copies sold or 1000 copies given away. For some people might sound like an insurmountable number, but when your book cover and sample are doing the job, all you really need to do is throw some advertising at the book.

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