First, let's talk about why we need and want reviews. We can debate this all day long (and go very much in-depth), but the biggest reason is that readers don't want to download an untried, untested book. (A lot of people won't download an eBook without having heard of it from someone else first. But that's a discussion for another day. :-))
Another reason we want reviews is so our books can be picked up by popular promoters like BookBub. (My favorite way to promote my books.)
So, how do we get reviews?
The first step is to have friends and family read your book and post HONEST reviews. Don't try to get them to post four- and five-star ones. That's cheap and dishonest. A lot of people say it's even dishonest to have friends and family post reviews, but I disagree. They have opinions too, and not every family member or friend of mine has loved my books. And their reviews reflect that. :-) (Which I love, by the way.)
The next thing is to kindly ask your beta readers, even the ones who didn't like the book so much, to post a review.
Our goal with these initial reviews is to help get your foot in the door to receive the "Amazon Verified Purchase" reviews. Why? A lot of people don't like being the first to review something, and again, if there aren't any reviews at all, most people won't download.
When checking out submissions, BookBub actually looks at the number of positive Amazon Verified Reviews. They know that these reviews are from people who actually bought the book (or downloaded it, if it was free) and weren't asked to review in exchange for the book. Therefore, their reviews are more likely going to be legit. (Arguable, of course, but they need to start somewhere.)
How to get those reviews? The best way, of course, is to sell a ton of copies. But it's hard to do that without promoting, and the best way to promote is through BookBub... but you can't get a slot with BookBub without reviews. :-)
The next best way, in my opinion, is to put your book up as a permafree book.
I've got a tutorial here on how to create a permafree eBook
Once your eBook is free, tell the world. Run a few promotions. Get a blog tour going, and have the reviewers download the free book instead of you emailing it to them. Then nicely ask them to post their reviews on Amazon.
The reviews will start to trickle in. Be patient! The Key of Kilenya has been available as a free eBook for two years. I have 90 reviews on it. It's in a less-popular genre (MG fantasy), and I've had friends with very, very different results, but don't get your hopes up that you'll have massive amounts of reviews (or downloads) really quickly. Because that probably won't happen. :-)
Other ways to get reviews:
- Use http://bookbloggerlist.com. Make sure to pick people who review in your genre and double check that they're currently accepting submissions. Read their submission guidelines.
- Give away copies of your book - print or eBook. If you don't want to make your book permafree, you can always try to gift it to people and ask them to review. This doesn't always work, though.
- Ask for reviews on Facebook, Twitter, etc. - tell people you'll give them a free copy of your eBook if they'll post an honest review on Amazon.
- At the end of each book, ask the reader to write up and post a review on the website where they downloaded the book. Be sure to give them a direct link to the book on that retailer.
- Netgalley. It costs a lot of money, but it's the same place where the big publishers go when they need reviews. You post your eBook, and if people are interested, they download it (for free), then review.
- Follow this dude's recommendations here, as he guest posted on Joe Konrath's blog. (Super, super sound advice. Hard work, but everything we do is hard work. :-)) He also talks about all the different ways to get reviews, including family ones, and the problems that can come from those ways.
- Create an email list of people who are interested in reviewing for you in exchange for a free eBook. Have them send you a link to their review and enter them in to win an Amazon gift card. Do this for every book you're needing reviews on.
- Use a paid service (you pay a company, the company finds reviewers. Reviewers are NOT paid) like this one: readingdeals.com/reviews/signup