Thursday, February 6, 2014

How to Get Book Reviews

Many authors ask each other what the best/easiest/most sure-fire way to get book reviews is, and the answer is there isn't one. :-) But there are a few things that you can do that will help you move toward those coveted reviews.

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 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:
If you know of any other ways to get reviews, post them in the comments below!


  1. This is excellent, Andrea. Thank you! I'm excited about the bloggerdise post. =)

    1. Here's another way to get reviews, that I've now added to my blog post:

      Can't believe I totally forgot about this. It's hard work (like using bloggerdise), but it'll pay off better than a lot of other ways we try.

  2. Thanks for your post. You have a lot of business sense. I have a book reviewing blog at The Stubby Pencil. We now have a staff of reviewers who are interested in mystery, suspense, thrillers, with a dash of romance, some fantasy, and some clean romance. WE enjoy MG and YA, all family friendly, of course. We post to our blog, Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter. In addition to reviews, we do blog tours, guest posts, and giveaways. We're in the process of building our followers.

  3. Danyelle I have just started this process and I'm beyond thrilled you posted this. Andrea thank you so much for opening up and showing all us newbies the ropes. Mary Ann you'll be getting an email soon. Happy day!!

  4. Andrea, thank you so much for taking the time to help us novice writers. I really appreciate your advice on your blog. One question What is a Blog tour?

    1. A Blog tour is like a book tour, except online. Book reviewers read and review books and post their reviews on their blogs during a specific amount of time. One of the blog tour organizers I've heard a lot of good things about is Kathy, over on the Reader not a Writer blog: