How to Get Reviews for Self-Published Books

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Today's guest post is by Joel Friedlander, one of the most informative people I know on the topic of self-publishing a book. Go visit his blog, or follow him on Twitter.

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It’s never been a better time to be a self-published author, and there have never been more book reviewers available to the writer who decides to go indie.

Book reviewers help spread the message about your book by publishing a review to their own network. But if you’re new to publishing, you have to figure out how to get those book reviews that can bring you more readers.

First, Get Your Kit Together
Before you go hunting for reviewers, make sure you’ve got the essentials you’ll need. At the minimum you should have:

  • Complete PDF of your book. Either include the covers if you can, or have the cover available as a JPG
  • Print copies and mailing supplies. If you’re publishing via print on demand, order in enough books to respond to reviewer requests.
  • Press release about the launch of your book. Try to make it sound like a story you would read in the newspaper.
  • Cover letter. This should be a brief introduction to you and your book, but keep it short.
  • Photos of the book and author. You’ll need high- and low-resolution images if you’re approaching both print and online reviewers.
  • Author bio. This is a good place to show your qualifications, particularly if you’re a nonfiction author.

How to Find Reviewers
There are literally thousands of book bloggers online, and most of them review books even though they aren’t paid. Nevertheless, many are thoughtful reviewers and good writers, and have a significant following.

There are also reviewers offering paid reviews. I avoid these, since there isn’t any good reason to pay for a review that I can think of. Some review services offer free reviews and another level of service if you pay. My opinion is that there are better ways to spend your money, and plenty of free reviewers, so at least when you start, explore those first.

Here are some places to look for reviews:

  • Midwest Book Review welcomes self-published books, and their website is a wealth of information on reviews.
  • Indie Reader, a new website, invites authors to submit their books for review, and they have published over 150 reviews on their site already.
  • Self-Publishing Review allows reviewers to post book reviews, and members (just an opt-in) can post to the site.
  • Reedsy has built and curated a list of the best book review blogs. Authors can search by genre and filter out blogs that do not review indie books.

5 Key Tips for Getting Book Reviews
So you’ve got your materials together, you’ve got access to lots of reviewers, you’re ready to go. Here are my 5 best tips for getting book reviews:

  1. Pick the right reviewers. This is the single most important thing you can do to help your review program. Find out what kind of books the reviewer likes to review, and only select appropriate reviewers.
  2. Query the reviewers. Check each reviewer’s requirements. Some want you to just send the book, but many ask for a query. Some review e-books, many do not. Conforming to their requirements saves both of you time.
  3. Send the book. In your query make sure to offer both versions of the book, the PDF and the print copy, or both.
  4. Follow up. Don’t stalk or harass the reviewer, who is probably doing this in her spare time. But if you haven’t heard anything after a few weeks, follow up to see if they still intend to write the review.
  5. Thank the reviewer. It’s common courtesy, but it also shows you appreciate the time and effort someone else took to help bring your book to the attention of more people.

Book reviews can be very effective in spreading the word about a good book. Nothing sells books as well as word of mouth, and you can get people talking about your book if you can bring it to their notice. Book reviews will do that for you.

Additional Resources

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Joel Friedlander is the proprietor of Marin Bookworks in San Rafael, California, a publishing services company where he’s helped launch many self-publishers. He blogs about book design, writing and self-publishing at www.TheBookDesigner.com. Joel is also the author of the newly-published A Self-Publisher’s Companion: Expert Advice for Authors Who Want to Publish.

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Do you know of other resources for finding book reviewers? Any tips to share? Please share in the comments!

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