Reviews are (in my opinion) far more important than covers. Most people read books that were referred to them. When first starting out, it can be quite a task to accumulate reviews of your book. In fact, one of my recent titles has been out for a few months with decent sales, and it currently hasn’t received even one posted review. Yikes! Great thing that it’s selling, but I sure would love to see some reviews for it.
Part of the reason is that I haven’t been overly active seeking reviews. This may be a lazy and stupid effort on my part; we’ll see in time. However, you may want to make a real effort to generate reviews, and this is often easier said than done. Here are suggestions for getting the reviews ball rolling:
1. Ask friends and family to read and write one (friends are better choice than family, and beware of family with the same last name). It’s likely some of these people have already read your book and would be happy to continue helping. Caution them not to write overly sweet and gushing reviews that might be met with skepticism from other readers. Nothing annoys an unhappy customer more than finding out a pack of misleading reviews were left by zealous friends and family. Ask them to be candid and encourage them to list items they didn’t particular enjoy to keep it realistic, not like one big pat on the back.
2. Ask members of forums to write a review. Offer a free book in exchange or offer to give a review for another author as a fair trade. Amazon Kindle discussion groups do this frequently as well as forums like http://indiespot.myfreeforum.org/. It’s easy to meet people at Goodreads and make offers like this to avid readers of any genre.
3. Dan Poynter of ParaPublishing has a newsletter with a monthly reviews wanted section. It’s how I got many reviews that ended up on my website for How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks All for Free. Just sign up for the free newsletter and follow the submission advice at http://parapublishing.com/sites/para/.
4. There are plenty of people who can be found with a Google and forum search. Some charge money, some don’t. Many have a long waiting list while others might be available right away. Because this field is constantly in flux, you’ll need to do some searching. A member of Red Adept’s staff at http://redadeptreviews.com/ did a review of The Little Universe, but I had to apply for it and the posting came out 6 months later. (That site no longer exists, an example of how quickly this industry changes.)
5. Make a mention to readers at the end of your book that it would be greatly appreciated if they would be so kind as to leave an honest review. Let people know it’s okay to include elements they didn’t like as well as those they did. In fact, I encourage readers to do the same for my books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or anywhere else for either the ebook or paperback versions. And if you didn’t like it, that’s okay too. I am sorry if that’s the case, but not everyone will like the same book.
6. This post was referred to me on this subject and has a list of new places that are continually looking for books to review – https://sites.google.com/site/articlemarketplace/blog/ebooks/5-book-review-sites-for-self-published-ebooks (that site no longer exists either, but plenty of new ones do).
Now comes the scary part. What if a lot of readers have complaints or simply don’t like it? Maybe they mention poor formatting, errors with grammar and typos, or that the story just didn’t work for them. Unfortunately, it’s happened to me plenty of times. I can report with good conscience that not everyone likes my books and that’s okay. This will possibly be the case for you too.
However, there is a beautiful thing about ebooks that’s not true with paperbacks (depending on the printer). Ebooks can be regularly edited and updated. If a dozen typos are discovered by readers (or you), then those can be fixed and updated immediately. Amazon usually takes about 2 days to publish a newer version, Smashwords sometimes a week or more, and these updates can happen as many times as you want.
Content of the story and other narrative issues can be harder to work out. For authors who sense that the book simply needs to be better, it will probably be wise to join some writing critique groups and work on improvements. I mentioned earlier a few forums for writers which is a good place to start, and there are plenty more with a Google search for “writing critique groups.”
http://indiespot.myfreeforum.org/ – a place for readers and authors to connect.
http://www.goodreads.com/ – all about books.
http://redroom.com/ – where the writers are.
http://www.authonomy.com/ – where writers become authors and more.
What are your thoughts?