Book Launch Basics Part 3 -- Gaining Reviews

Creating your plan for gaining book reviews -- Editorial Reviews, Endorsements or Blurbs, your ARC Network, and Review Services--like NetGalley or Book Sirens. 

In this 8-part book launch basics series, I’ll demystify the process of proficiently releasing a new book into the world with flair. The information I’m providing is focused on those who will independently publish their book, but many of these components/strategies are equally usable for those publishing traditionally. (If you’re lucky to go that route, you may even have a publisher doing some or most of these things for you—but it is still important to understand the elements that go into successfully launching a new title.)

Part 1 covered your online author image and overall branding.  

Part 2 is all about manuscript readiness and book presentation.

In part 3, we’re covering reviews—how and where to get them.

If your book is being traditionally published with a small, mid-sized, or large press/publisher, you will (or you should) have some assistance in getting reviews—particularly editorial reviews. However, if you’re publishing independently, it is your responsibility to send your book in for these reviews. Not all editorial review systems accept independently published books, but many do. Additionally, you’ll want to reach out to other authors for blurbs or endorsements for your book, along with gaining regular reader reviews. You might even want to use review services.

WHY YOU NEED REVIEWS

So why should I put so much effort into gaining reviews?

Reviews are the social proof you need to help people make that decision to buy your book. If readers navigate to your sales’ page from their online searches, ads, or social media, one of the first things they check before hitting the purchase button is the review ranking and quantity. It matters.

EDITORIAL REVIEWERS

These reviews are publishedon well-known websites that cater to the reading community and include places like Kirkus, Library Journal, School Library Journal, Book Page, Book List, Readers’ Favorite, Publishers Weekly/Book Life and many more. Most are digital or online submissions, but a few still require physical books be sent in the mail. Some are free and some have a fee. Many readers won’t know a lot about these publications, but bookstore owners/managers and librarians will often look toward this sort of review to know whether a book is worthy of shelving.


ENDORSEMENTS

Endorsements differ from regular reviews because you’re typically asking for this well in advance of your book’s publication. These special review requests are usually made to other authors whose endorsement would lend your book a certain level of cachet. Getting these reviews can be tricky if you’re approaching someone who is very well known—particularly if you do not know them. My best advice is to not waste your time on too many of those ‘pie in the sky’ requests, but instead focus on approaching authors who you may have met at conferences or other events or have some connection to—even if it is not close. That allows you to begin that request email with some level of familiarity. “After speaking with you at XYZ Conference last year, I feel you’d be a good fit for a potential advance review of my book TITLE.

Clearly outline what your book is about, link to an excerpt, offer to provide the book in whichever format is most convenient, provide the timeline for when the review is needed, and even write a sample review for them to adapt to their own language. Clear communication is key. And nudges are okay after two or three weeks if you haven’t had a reply.

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CORE READERS—ADVANCE REVIEWS

You likely will have a group of friends, family, and super fans who are part of your core reader community. You should offer these folks the chance to have an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) to have reviews ready to go in advance of your book’s publication. Most ARCs these days are sent digitally, but if you’re an indie published author, you can order author or proof copies to distribute to the readers who want a physical book. If you’re traditionally published, your publisher will let you know how many of these ARCs they’re willing to produce and whether you will get some to distribute to your own network.

If your book is available for presale, then you can get have it listed on Goodreads and BookBub –those two locations allow for pre-publication reviews. However, sales sites – particularly Amazon – will only allow the review to posted on or after publication date.

Additionally, you can collect these reviews to use on your website and on social media to help build the excitement and buzz leading up to your publication date.

Be sure to send a reminder email after publication date to these reviewers with a link to the Amazon page for your book to make it easy for them to post their review.

NOTE: A question I sometimes get is whether it’s a good idea to provide the free book to these readers as that feels like ‘giving up a sale.’ My answer is that the early review is worth far more than your royalty in those early days/weeks when your book has just come out.

REVIEW SERVICES

There are several review services out there that help to put your books in front of readers who are agreeing to be reviewers as part of the terms of gaining access to books on that site.

Book Sprout – both free and paid plans

Hidden Gems – paid listings (on a sliding scale – you pay more if more people sign up to review.)  

Book Sirens – I’ve been seeing this group come through a lot when I get offered ARCs from authors I love. So as a reader, I like the way this site operates. As an author, the fee is not steep $10 per title and then $2/reviewer, and you can accept or decline the request—meaning you curate the list of people receiving your book for review. You may or may not get the email of these reviewers for future communications, it is an opt-in system for the reviewer.

NetGalley – In the past, access to NetGalley was cost prohibitive as it was a service mainly used by publishers. Now, through Books Go Social or through a membership in Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) you can access the service for a lower cost. The service varies in whether all people who sign up get your book or whether you can curate the list. (Through IBPA’s system – you can curate the list of reviewers—meaning you can say not some who you believe would not be a good fit for your book. But through the Books Go Social product, you are not allowed to do that.) However, one big benefit of NetGalley is that you will receive a list of the reviewers who signed up and you are allowed to communicate with them (following certain rules.)  

Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions about developing your own review process for your next book!!

 
 

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