Reviews. Who among us couldn’t use more? As the lifeblood of indie authors, they encourage readers to take a chance on our books, increase our exposure on Amazon, and get us that much closer to a coveted BookBub promotion. A good review can make your day and validate all those months (or years) of hard work. But what can you do to get them?
When my first book, Sarah, was published in December 2016, I went the NetGalley route. I’d been reviewing books from NetGalley on my blog since 2013, and knew Sarah would be made available to loads of readers and reviewers. And it worked. Sarah received sixty reviews just from NetGalley. Most of them were positive, and I was ecstatic! A few negative reviews were included, but that’s to be expected. You can’t please everyone, and it’s more realistic to have both positive and negative reviews for your book. If a reader visits your Amazon page and is met with a sea of glowing 5-star reviews, they may assume all are courtesy of your friends and family members. In addition to the reviews, I was thrilled to be accepted for a BookBub promotion about a month after my release.
Fast forward to April of this year when my second book, The Gemini Connection, was placed on NetGalley and received exactly six reviews from twenty-eight readers who downloaded it. Of those six, only two posted on Amazon, and three on Goodreads. I was stunned. Both books are YA, but Sarah is horror and The Gemini Connection sci-fi/thriller–could that be the difference? Was the cover not eye-catching enough? The description not enticing? A few author friends told me they’d stopped releasing books in the spring and summer because sales tend to be lower in comparison to fall and winter. Whatever the case, I needed reviews and formulated a plan on how to get them.
I’ve had a blog for nearly five years, and during that time, I’ve made some amazing bookish friends from all over the world. At Books & Such, I support other authors with book reviews, guest posts, and author interviews. Throughout the month of October, my Bad Moon Rising feature showcases a different horror/thriller/paranormal author daily. I reached out to some of these friends and guests, asking if they’d like to review my book. Several accepted, and I trust they’ll leave reviews.
Not all of these friends are authors. I write young adult novels, so I’ve made it a point to follow YA book blogs where I’m an active visitor, leaving comments and engaging in discussions. I offered my book to a few of these bloggers–some accepted, some were already bombarded with requests, but a few offered to feature it on their blog without a review–and we all know every bit of publicity helps.
From Goodreads, I noted some of the bloggers who’d reviewed Sarah favorably and asked if they’d like to read The Gemini Connection. Everyone I contacted said yes. Maybe they’ll leave a review, maybe they won’t–but if I never asked, there wouldn’t be the potential for another review and possible resulting sales.
Some Goodreads groups allow you to post your book info and offer it for review. I’ve never tried these myself, but it’s an option that might work for you, and as an added bonus–it’s free! Most of the groups on Goodreads are genre specific. Find one that reads your genre, join it, and interact.
After the release of Sarah, I booked a blog tour. It didn’t result in any sales that I know of, but I contacted one of those blogs and they were more than happy to read and review The Gemini Connection, interview me, and host a giveaway. With less than stellar results, I swore off blog tours after that, but through blogging, I’ve met another tour organizer. She receives a good amount of traffic and comments on her blog, and she has consistent tour bookings on sites that focus on young adult books, so I’m giving it another shot. At the time of this writing, the tour begins next week–five days, eleven sites, and of those eleven, six are providing reviews, so I’m hopeful.
Social media isn’t for everyone. It’s time-consuming and, for introverts, can be painful when it comes to sharing and connecting with people, but it’s almost a necessity in this business. Maybe blogging isn’t your thing–consider Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, or BookBub. Plenty of options are out there. Be adaptable. I’ve had to up my Instagram presence because I learned that’s where the teenagers hang out. Find what works best for you, commit to it–and have fun meeting new people and potential reviewers!
Teri Polen reads and watches horror, sci-fi, and fantasy. The Walking Dead, Harry Potter, and anything Marvel-related are likely to cause fangirl delirium. She lives in Bowling Green, KY with her husband, sons, and black cat. Her first novel, Sarah, a YA horror/thriller, was a horror finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Visit her online at www.teripolen.com