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Point of (re)view - 5 steps to getting great book reviews

Reviews are vital to the success of a book, either professional or those by other readers. They serve as recommendations when people are choosing a new book, and can heavily influence buyer behaviour. Here are five things you should think about when trying to get reviews.

Recent studies have shown that 90% of customers have had their buying decision impacted by a positive review. A book without any reviews at all could be seen to be amateurish, and not worth the risk from an untested author. To give your work the best chance you should try and get some quality reviews before your book launch. Here are five things to consider.

1 Don’t ask friends and family for reviews

Friends and family are notoriously unreliable. They can’t be unbiased and will simply praise your book without criticism. Their reviews will come across as gushy, and over-enthusiastic, and won’t be taken seriously. You should only be looking for quality, impartial reviews.

2 Don’t only focus on traditional book reviewers and bloggers

There are a number of services out there that offer professional book reviews, and whilst an endorsement from them might carry a lot of weight and prestige, they might not be the best place to reach the audience that you’re trying to target. Focusing on getting a review from a large site can be like waiting to win the lottery, they’re inundated with submissions and all the while you could be looking elsewhere.

Instead, try and concentrate your efforts on more specific publications and blogs that are relevant to your book. For instance, if your story is a comedy about the ups and downs of motherhood, try targeting popular parenting blogs and magazines for reviews, and target your audience directly. Your reviews will be better for it.

3 Be specific and to the point with your review requests

When contacting prospective reviewers about your book you need to make sure you get your pitch right. Sending a long request that takes ages to get to the point, will only end up with your request being discarded. You need to make their lives easier by being clear and to the point.

Tailor your submission and personalise your pitch for them. Check to see if they have specific submission and review policies, and follow them exactly. Going off piste is a sure-fire way to be ignored.

Make sure you identify your book’s audience, and that it’s relevant to who you’re contacting. Include the basic details, who you are, the book title, genre, and wordcount. Write a compelling summary and description of your book and how you think it will benefit their followers and readers. Make sure you include the publication date so that the reviewer can schedule it appropriately.

Remember to thank the reviewer for their consideration.

4 Wait for a response before sending your book for review

Don’t assume that whoever you send your book to will want to review it. Attaching you manuscript to your initial request will come across as incredibly arrogant and pushy, and will pretty much ensure that your email gets deleted. Wait for confirmation before sending your full manuscript.

Make sure to find out the preferred format for sending your book. It could be PDF, mobi for Kindle, or ePub for iBooks. To increase your chances you may want to consider sending through a physical advance review copy (ARC).

5 Give them time

Once you’ve sent through your review copy you need to give them time before you think about following up. You need to give reviewers enough time to actually read the book, and think about what they’re going to write. You also have to remember that yours is probably not the only book they will be reviewing. If you don’t give them some space you could be seen to be pestering and impatient.

A good rule of thumb is to submit your book for reviews and endorsements about three months before you’re looking to publish. This will give them more than enough time to get their reviews back to you as well as giving you an opportunity to do other promotional work, building an audience on social media, or creating hype.

If, after this time, you still haven’t had a review back, make sure you follow up with a polite email. A good follow-up can double your response rate.

Let us know how you get your reviews below, and be sure to sign up to our newsletter which includes tips and tricks, and special offers for our services, including ready-made book covers and designs, eBook formatting, and promotional tools.

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