Unlocking Book Reviews: Pro Tips for Romance Writers

Unlocking Book Reviews: Pro Tips for Romance Writers

Your book is written and ready to publish. What do you do next? Most authors spend their pre-launch time seeking reviews. Why? Because research shows that reviews play a role in sales. A 2018 survey by Gigi Griffis at The Ramble, revealed that 52% of readers read reviews whereas only 13% read the blurb. The survey also indicated that readers were more likely to buy a book from an author they knew or that was recommended by a friend. Only 7% of the participants indicated that a prominent ad placement or free/sale opportunity would encourage them to buy.

Northwestern’s Spiegel Research determined that “The purchase likelihood for a product with five reviews is 270% greater than the purchase likelihood of a product with no reviews.” Interestingly, this study also saw peak review influence over buying when reviews were 4.0 to 4.7. Above that, and consumers appeared to be suspicious of the review. This means authors shouldn’t be upset, as some I’ve come across have been, when they get a 4-star review. That 4-star may better lead to a sale than a 5-star review.

What this all tells us is that expanding your reader base by asking for reviews as well as encouraging them to recommend your books, can help you sell more books.

Text version is below video

 

Here are 18 ways to get reviews for your upcoming release (or even your backlist):

1. Ask for reviews at the end of your books

Put a request for a review right after “The End” in each of your books. Make it easy by including a link to the book retailer’s review. This will require you to have a different version of the book for each retailer you post to, but the easier it is for a reader to click and review, the more likely you’ll get a review. An easier way would be to have a single link to a page that has a links to each book retailer, but this is an extra step, which could impede readers from leaving a review.

2. Build up a list of book bloggers in your subgenre of romance.

Three months or more out from the release of your book, start building a list of romance book bloggers.  Many bloggers want 6-12 weeks to read your book prior to release.

You can do a search on “romance book bloggers.” Another option is to research for reviews on published books similar to yours to see where they’re posted. For example, title+review or title+book review. You can also find book bloggers and reviewers by checking the Editorial Reviews section on Amazon pages with books similar to yours. In this section, authors/publishers can list reviews from other sources, such as blogs.

When you find blogs that would be a good fit for your romance, check to see if there is a book review policy or guidelines, and then follow them. If there are no guidelines, use the contact page or information to reach out to the blogger. Let the blogger know why you think your book would be a fit for their blog, and include your blurb and bio, as well as how you can deliver the book to them (e.g. send as attachment, Bookfunnel, etc). Let them know you’re willing to share the review on your social media, which can help them gain more exposure as well.

When you email, personalize it to the blogger so they don’t feel they’re part of a mass emailing. It’s easier to reject emails that appear to be bulk mailed.

3. BookTube, BookTok, Bookstagram

Similar to bloggers, YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram have romance readers who read, review, and recommend books. Searching these platforms for hashtags around romance books can help you find them. A few to consider are #bookblogger(s),#bookreview(s), #bookreviewer, #readingromance, #romancebookblogger, #currentlyreading, #bookrecommendatioin. You can include platform specific hashtags such as #bookstagram, #booktok, #booktube.

You can also search by keywords such as “Book Blogger” or “Book Reviews.”

Another option is to us a paid resource that has a database of influencers such as Promoty. Influencer Marketing Hub has a list of other resources.

Depending on the size of the influencer’s following, you may be asked to pay money. While it’s a no-no to pay for reviews that show up on Amazon, in this situation, it’s generally okay to pay for services that can help get your book out to reviewers or for influencer marketing.

If an influencer does review your book, be sure to follow, share and give a big thank you.

4. Book Podcasts

Reach out to podcast hosts who feature authors or book reviews and inquire if they would be interested in reviewing your book or having you as a guest on their podcast. You can find podcasters the same way you find bloggers. In fact, many of the bloggers have podcasts. You’ll want to pitch them the same way you pitch bloggers by following their pitch guidelines or contacting them with your book information. Be sure to listen to a few episodes so you can be sure your book is a fit.

5. Send out Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs)

Advanced Reader Copies are what you’ll send to book bloggers and influencers prior to your book release. But they’re not the only review resources. Here are other people and places you can send ARCs to:

  • Your Alpha and Beta Readers: These readers have helped you improve your book, which means they’re not only a great support, but they’re also invested in your success.
  • Your ARC Team: You can build this through your email list and social media. Kindlepreneur has a good article on building an ARC team.
  • Booksprout or Booksirens which are resources that help you reach readers and built your ARC team. Through these services you can set a limit on how many ARCs will be available and conditions for getting the book, such as leaving a review at Amazon is required. You can ask for reviews at other sites such as Goodreads or Bookbub as well. The services can send reminders to reviewers, and it can block anyone who got a book but didn’t leave a review from getting an ARC from you in the future. Just be sure to give your reviewers enough time to read the book. I like to get the book to my ARC team at least 3 weeks in advance of release. These services aren’t free, but they’re affordable.
  • Reedsy Discovery will give you access to their readers as well as a promotional page, and potential listing on the Reedsy feed and in newsletter for readers. At $50, it’s not too expensive to try.
  • NetGalley is another service where you can post your book and readers can request it in exchange for a review. This is a good resource to access bloggers, librarians and others in the book industry.
  • Kirkus Reviews or Foreword Clarion are two other review services, although they’re a bit expensive.

6. Build your email list.

I see many authors lamenting about email lists. They don’t want the expense and can’t figure out what to email. Then there’s the building of it, which can be a significant task on its own. This is a mistake. Authors should actively build a list of readers they can connect with. Think about it. These are readers who love you so much they give you their email! They WANT to hear from you! You can check out my post on email which not only goes into detail on how it’s more effective than social media, but also how to create it, build it, and what to send your subscribers.

Once you have your list, email your subscribers about your new book, and remind them to leave a review. In fact, you can invite them to join your ARC team.

7. Review Page on Your Author Website

This can be a great page to share reviews (note that many sites hold copyright to reviews left so don’t just copy and paste. Ask reviewers for permission). This page can also be a place where you can ask readers to leave reviews on book sites or Goodreads. Remember, to give them links directly to the book on the retailers and Goodreads so they can easily follow through.

Readers can leave reviews on your website. If you’re website is built on WordPress, here is a list of review plugins. If you do direct sales and use Shopify, you can add a review app as well.

8. Connect with active reviewers on Amazon

This can be a time consuming effort, but it can be effective for generating reviews on Amazon. Search for books similar to yours and scroll down to the reviews. Click on a reviewer to learn more about them, such as other books they’ve reviewed and their reviewer rank. Sometimes they’ll include website or contact information. Pitch them as you would bloggers or other reviewers. There are tools and services that can help you find Amazon reviewers, such as the Review Grabber tool at Author Marketing Club.

9. Goodreads

Create an author profile on Goodreads, add your book to the library, and connect with readers and other authors. You can also join Goodreads groups related to romance novels and participate in discussions. Alessandra Torre has a free webinar on how to use Goodreads to sell more books.

10. Social Media

Leverage your social media platforms like X, Facebook, and Instagram to connect with readers and other authors. Regularly post updates about your book and encourage your followers to leave reviews. Use relevant hashtags to increase the visibility of your posts and don’t forget to engage with your followers by responding to comments and messages.

11. Review Exchanges

Join online groups or forums where authors exchange books and reviews with each other. This can be tricky as you want to be honest in your reviews, but because you’re working with another author, you might feel compelled to be more positive. In this case, you’re also committing to reading the other author’s book, so you’ll need to make time to do that and post your review in a timely manner.

12. Book Giveaways and Contests

Organize book giveaways on social media platforms (e.g. author takeovers), Goodreads, or your author website. Ask the winners to leave a review after they have finished reading your book. Get as many participants as you can by sharing your giveaway on social media, your author website, and relevant online communities. Be clear on the rules and conditions of your giveaway to avoid legal issue.

13. Book Clubs

Contact local or online book clubs and offer to provide them with copies of your book for review. Even better, ask to be a speaker at one of their meetings.

14. LibraryThing

Library Thing is similar to Goodreads…a place for people who love to read. You can list your book on LibraryThing and offer it up for review in their Early Reviewers program.

15. Local Newspapers and Magazines

Contact local newspapers and magazines, especially if they have a book review feature, and ask if they would be interested in reviewing your book. If your book taps into something local or newsworthy, even better. Note that newspapers and magazines receive many unsolicited books for review, so by contacting them directly with a great press release or pitch, you can help yourself stand out.

16. Online Book Tours

In a tour, you’ll be using many resources offered above such as bloggers, podcasters, and YouTubers. Many tours just have information about your book, but others will also include reviews. In tour, you commit to 7 days or more to visit each tour location for an interview, leave comments, or whatever you set up in advance. Plan your book tour well in advance of your book release, and create a detailed schedule. You can hire services to set this up for you. To find services, do a search “book tour services”.

17. Reach Out to Previous Reviewers

If this isn’t your first book, reach out to the reviewers of your past books and see if they’d be interested and reviewing your next book. If the reviewer is a reader, see if they want to join your ARC team for future releases. Be sure to offer a big thank you when they leave a review!

18. Email Signature

One of the easiest ways to remind people to review your books is to include a request for a review in your email signature along with a link to where your book can be purchased or reviewed.

While many reviews will come in as your books sell and readers read them, you can help boost sales, especially when your book releases, by actively seeking reviews. Remember to be polite, respectful, and not too pushy when asking for reviews. Always express your appreciation for the reviewer’s time and feedback, whether it’s positive or negative.

NOTE ON NEGATIVE REVIEWS

First an important reminder…

Reviews aren’t for authors. They’re for readers!

Second, we need to define a negative review. I’ve heard authors fuss in author groups about getting a 4-star review. You have to remember that reviews are subjective. Some readers are generous with the 5-stars and others make you work for it. Plus, if readers are suspicious of 5-stars, then 4-star reviews might be better for encouraging sales.

My opinion is that 1 or 2 stars aren’t great. Some people just leave the rating (stars) but no review, which can be frustrating since you don’t know why they didn’t like it. Some readers will leave a bad rating or review because the book wasn’t delivered, which isn’t your fault. At the same time, you’re using that platform to sell and deliver your book, so it’s on you to make sure it can provide the book and good customer service.

For those readers who leave bad reviews, your best course of action is to do nothing. There are BookTubers that do videos on authors who fuss about bad reviews, which end up looking bad for the author. Remember, reviews aren’t for you. Your beta readers and editors are the one who give feedback for you. Reviewers are to help other readers decide if they want your book.

Here are some other important things to remember about reviews:

  • A few bad reviews among mostly good ones can be a good thing. It shows they’re real, which makes readers more comfortable in buying.
  • Bad reviews can help sell a book depending on what it says. Too many sexy bits for one reader could be the reason another reader buys it.
  • Bad reviews can give you feed back. If you’re getting reviews about editing or formatting issues, you can fix those. You can add a note in your description that a new version was updated to fix them for future readers.
  • Bad reviews can help you improve your cover or blurb if for some reason its attracting the wrong readers. The first covers for my romance gave off a bit of a sweet romance vibe (that and for some reason the book ended up in the family drama category), and sure enough, at least one reviewer fussed about the sexy bits. When I got my rights back, I made new covers that better fit the books and what readers will find when reading them.

Do you have other ideas about getting book reviews? Let me know in the comments below.

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