So you wrote a book! Take a moment and revel in the realization that you are successful at the multi-stepped process of dreaming up a compelling book idea, planning it out, committing to writing the first draft, sending it out for edits and peer reviews, designing a killer cover, securing a copyright and pulling it all together. Now you have a final product in hand or electronically available at your fingertips for the world to read. Whether you self published or took the traditional route, no one is more excited than you about this huge accomplishment! Congratulate yourself on a job well done, and your official entrance into the author world if this is your first rodeo.

Now that your book is available for purchase, how do you go about selling it to your reading community?

Book marketing begins before the final word is edited. And there are lots of ways to market your book to your target audience. Your author website and blog are a good place to begin, all well-established before your book is published. Creating hype early builds demand and anticipation. Push it out on all social media feeds. Host book giveaways, attend and participate in book store reading events and tell everyone you know to tell everyone they know about your book. 

The best way to ensure sales for your book? The book review. 

Why are book reviews so important?

Book reviews by honest readers can make or break your book sale success. Readers often purchase books based on reviews. They are proof that readers like what they are reading. You can expect a few negative reviews to thorn out among all of the positive ones. Know that this is normal and don’t take it personally. Not every reader is the correct audience or fit for your story. 

How can you go about acquiring book reviews, especially if you are just starting out and don’t have any?

You are going to need to ask for book reviews. Readers who find out about your book will want to read other reviews in order to want to buy and read it. This is a catch 22. Get your plan together to ask your audience for reviews and to share your book with one or more additional readers to exponentially increase your initial audience. There are rules around this that you need to be aware of. 

Here are some ideas to generate legitimate book reviews by readers you do not know:

  • Add a call to action (CTA) on the last page of your book asking the reader to write an honest review on their site of choice if they enjoyed reading your book.
  • Make the ebook version available for free for a period of time.
  • Create a reader email list and ask for reviews directly through email or an automated email funnel.
  • Create an advance reader list from your email list and ask them to read and review advance copies of your new book; having several reviews at this stage can significantly and positively impact your planned book launch.
  • Organize a “reader swap” by connecting with other writers on social media or in person and give away electronic copies of your book with a review request.
  • Seek out book reviewers on social media and on blogs that are accepting new books to review and submit your request.
  • Approach “big reviewers” in your genre on sites like Amazon and ask them to review your book. What do you have to lose?
  • Host giveaways on your blog, author site and social media platforms to attract new readers ready to review.

What are the “rules” around book reviews?

Most sites now have rules for book reviews. They have been known to delete reviews based on all kinds of assumed connections. Someone at some point ruined this for everyone else. As long as you follow the rules, you will gain many legitimate reviews for your book.

Things that are not ok to do for reader reviews:

  • Reader “swaps” with other authors – believe it or not, sites like Amazon look for links between authors.
  • Reviews by friends and family – nope, double nope!
  • Paying for book reviews – it will eventually be obvious and you will be found out.
  • Don’t beg or bribe readers in any way – be careful of your giveaways and how they are structured and can be tracked.
  • No spam! Ever!

How do I deal with negative reviews?

Once your book is released, you can’t control what readers think of it. Some will love it, some not so much. You can prepare, though, and be ready for if and when a bad review comes your way.

Know that you may very well get one or more negative reviews. You can choose to read and respond, not read, or not respond. Consider constructive criticism. Whatever you choose to do, don’t let them get you down. This is just one reader. Not every book is for everyone. Keep your head up, laugh even, and believe in yourself and your book. This is all part of the process of being an author. There are many readers out there who will be touched by your book. Find them.

Book reviews are just one piece of the book marketing puzzle. They are not easy to come by, so tackle them one at a time. Quality over quantity. Eventually build up enough reviews to easily get you in front of more readers. Connect with your audience by reaching out to acknowledge and respond in comments and start a conversation with your early readers. Personally thank initial reviewers to build a good author reputation. This can be a slow, yet rewarding organic process. You have gone this far, don’t give up now!

Article written by Anne Meick – writer, author, and creator of Writers’ Connection.

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