We'd like to welcome, Debbie Drum—best-selling author, speaker and founder of Book Review Targeter—to the blog this week. As someone who is on the front lines helping authors gather book reviews every day, Debbie has tons of great insights about how to get more reviews…and why it's crucial to do so. Debbie, take it away…
Thanks! We live in a world where social proof means everything. We have apps, like Yelp, and social media, like Facebook, giving us updates on products and services all the time. However, the importance of social proof has been around since the beginning of time.
Think back to tupperware door-to-door selling where referrals from buyers around the neighborhood meant everything for the salesperson to make that sale.
Nowadays, though, we take recommendations from perfect strangers before we pull out our credit cards to buy something! Times have changed, but the truth remains that in order to make any kind of sale, testimonials and/or reviews are a must.
Reviews are a component of selling. Go to any successful product or service sales page. You won’t find one without testimonials from customers explaining how much they love the product.
The reason I share this with you is because I run into countless authors who are trying to sell and market their books, yet have zero or very few reviews. This is a big mistake.
Getting reviews should be the first task of marketing your book. More reviews equals more book sales. Plain and simple. If you need social proof—in other words, reviews—to sell more books, why do so many authors ignore the review getting process?
I’ll tell you why…because it’s not easy!
Before we get into how to get more reviews, let’s discuss three review methods you should avoid:
- Avoid the temptation to buy reviews. There are legit places that you can actually buy professional reviews like Kirkus Reviews and Foreword Reviews. These reviews will go into the editorial reviews and not the actual Amazon reader reviews section. These paid reviews are going to cost you a pretty penny, so your book had better be top notch if you are going to go this route. As for paying for reader reviews…that is completely against the rules.
- Don't incentivize readers to get their reviews. This means you can’t give something away in exchange for a review. You can’t give a gift card, a gift or money. It’s just not allowed, so don’t do it.
- Avoid review swaps with other authors. In other words, don't say to another author that you’ll review their book if they review your book. This is another strategy that doesn’t work anymore because Amazon can see the relationship rather quickly and they will remove the reviews…so what’s the point?
Now let’s move onto 5 things you should be doing to get more reviews:
Ask, family, friends and colleagues for reviews. This is your "warm" market, so it's a good way to get started. However, this method should be used sparingly because Amazon can track relationships, IP addresses, and how often one person writes reviews for a specific author. Reviews from this group can also mess up your "also boughts" on Amazon, epsecially if your friends and family don't typically purchase the genre of book that you've written. This can confuse Amazon's powerful recommendation algorithms and backfire on you.
Reach out to your audience on social media in groups and pages. Ask them to like, comment and share your request for reviews.
Ask people to review your book INSIDE your book. At the end of your book, be sure to tell readers how important their feedback is to you and ask them to write a review immediately. If you don’t ask, you don’t get! You will get more organic reviews if you ask.
Ask your beta readers to review your book. Beta readers are the best people to ask for reviews. They're the folks that give you feedback on your book before you publish. Since they have already read the book, it should be fast and easy for them to write a review for you.
Research targeted reviewers on major retailers and contact them. This method involves looking at books comparable to yours and getting their contact information, and contacting them to request a reviewer of your book. It's time consuming and tedious, which is one of the reasons I built Book Review Targeter.