By a book reviewer. For free.
So you finally did it, you wrote that book! Congratulations! That’s huge and impressive and an incredible feat all on it’s own.
But now you probably want some people to read it right? You can give it to your friends and family, they might actually get around to reading it and telling you they liked it. Or you can attempt to find a big time publisher. Which could work and you still should attempt that route.
But one of the best ways to get your book out there is by finding book bloggers and reviewers who spend huge chunks of their free time promoting new books on their sites and all over social media.
Now how do you do that? Here are some easy steps for you to take to find and approach book reviewers. As well as some do’s and don’ts that will help you have a much more positive experience.
Find the book reviewers
Book reviewers want to be found! They’re all over Goodreads, Instagram, and Twitter. But that’s not the best place to find them. There are a few main book blogger lists and registries that are searchable and kept up to date that are great places for you to start. These ones are free to join for bloggers and free to access for authors. Don’t pay for names.
Organized by book reviewers name and includes links to their websites and review policies as well as what genres they accept and where they post reviews.
Lists bloggers by genre with direct links to their sites.
Lists bloggers with direct links to their sites and lists what genres they accept.
Find the right book reviewer for you
Now that you have an idea of where to find book reviewers you need to narrow down your search and find the right one for you.
Only look into reviewers who specifically say they read your genre. There are a lot of book bloggers out there and it’s not worth your time to research ones who don’t like the kind of book you’ve written.
Put together a short list of reviewers who like your kind of book and then go directly to their sites. Browse through their existing reviews to get a feel of their style and what kinds of books they’re actively reading.
It’s important to find reviewers you feel compatible with. This will help you in getting your book selected as well as networking in general.
Also take note of if the blog is even still active. Many blogs get abandoned or transition away from their original purpose. It’s not worth your time to approach sites that aren’t regularly producing the content that suits your needs.
Follow their contact instructions
For the love of books pay attention to this step!
Here’s an example of my contact page: Contact Me/ Review Policy
You should be able to find a similar page for any book blogger currently accepting books for review. Read the whole page!
If they say they only accept a certain format of books, that’s all they accept. Don’t approach them with a different format thinking they should break they’re own rules for you.
If they ask for a summary, include a summary. If they only review a certain genre and it’s not your genre, move on.
This may sound harsh but you ain’t special. Don’t expect reviewers to make exceptions for you. I get up to a dozen requests a day, I’m just one person, I’ve set boundaries for myself and they should be respected.
Sell yourself and suck up just a little
You have one email to catch a reviewer’s attention. Really, you have about one paragraph. However you start your email is going to determine if they keep reading on to the summary and decide if your book is right for them.
The easiest way to get someone’s attention? Compliment them.
Find a review or article or something specific that you actually enjoyed about their site and mention it. It’ll show that you took the time to research them before approaching them and goes a long way in getting your email read.
Then sell your book before you sell yourself. Say briefly what kind of book it is in a way that sounds fascinating. Then you can say something awesome about yourself and why you’re an author worth checking out.
Include a full synopsis at the end of the email. Include a link to your website or Goodreads page but try not make it mandatory that they leave the email in order to decide if they want to pick up your book.
Close the email politely and include all of your relevant contact information. Attach a book cover photo for extra points.
Above all else, sound human and personable. Don’t send the same email to every blogger, tailor it. Be professional but not stuffy. And definitely don’t insult the reviewer.
It’s weird that I have to say that but I do.
This is a hard one.
After you hit send, just wait. Some book bloggers may respond right away, some may take weeks, others never will. You have to just wait and see.
I know it’s not ideal but I don’t respond to emails of books I’m not interested in reviewing. I get so many applications it would be very difficult for me to respond to all of them with a no thank you and then the following argument or conversation that would occur after I open that door.
I don’t mean it as an insult to any of the authors. Your book just doesn’t sound like it’s for me.
I have responded to authors I am uninterested in though. If someone writes me about a book that I find deeply offensive, it’s happened, more than once, then I do call them out. So if you get no email back, at least you aren’t so off the mark it’s worth getting angry about.
Don’t flood anyone’s inbox with follow up emails if they never agreed to read your book in the first place. There are many reviewers out there, go find one who’s interested.
Personalize your packages
So now you’ve sent out dozens of emails and hopefully a few have accepted your book. Great! Don’t stop selling yourself now.
If you are sending the book as an e-book include a personalized email thank you. If you have any bonus content for your book or something like additional short stories, include them. It makes the reviewer feel like they’re in on something not available to the public.
If you are sending a physical copy include some personal touches. Signing the book is a very easy way to make it feel special. You can also include a card, bookmark, or business card. I love receiving fun bookmarks or cards that I can use as bookmarks. And it helps me remember the author and why I chose this book.
Be even more patient
This is an even harder one. You’re going to want your book read and reviewed right away. That’s understandable. It’s just probably not going to happen.
If you and the reviewer agreed on a deadline, great, hold them to that. This will be most common if you are sending out advanced reader copies (ARCs). Send them far in advance of the release date and give as much time as possible for a review.
However, if you did not agree to a specific date, which will most likely be the case, you’re going to have to be very patient. Personally, I review books in the order in which I receive them. If I were to accept a review request today there would be 14 books ahead of that one. That’s going to take a while.
Many reviewers have giant TBR piles, especially if they’ve been doing this a while. Most of us also have full time jobs or other responsibilities. We want to read and review full time, but we can’t. So please be patient. It may take months or even more than a year for your book to actually get read.
I know that’s lame but just try to understand.
Follow up if necessary
If it’s been quite a long time and you still haven’t received any updates about your book you may follow up politely. Give it a few months and then send exactly one follow up email. Don’t flood anyone’s inbox please.
Check their site and make sure that they’re still active. It’s possible that they aren’t reviewing anymore. If they are still active that means they’re reading a lot and you’re probably slowly moving up the list.
If you decide to send a follow up email simply ask for a progress update. Do not demand that they read your book next or complain that it’s taking too long. You just want to check in to make sure they didn’t forget or lose your book.
Share positive reviews, try to learn from negative ones
Once your book has finally been reviewed you still have work to do.
Hopefully the review is positive. If it is, share it. Everywhere and multiple times. You want people to see and read the great review you just got and the reviewer wants people to come to their site. It’s a win win, put it out for the world!
If the review is negative you don’t have to share it. However, do not ask for it to be taken down or changed. This is the reviewer’s opinion and they are entitled to it. Don’t argue with a bad review. Read it and try to see what they didn’t like about your book. Maybe they just aren’t fans of your style, maybe it’s something you can improve on for next time.
If you do write a second book return to the reviewers who gave you a positive review. Keeping a working relationship with them will benefit both of you for future projects.
Take advantage of social media for even more book promotions
Feel free to friend or follow book reviewers on their social media platforms. This way they are able to tag you and get an even bigger audience when they post about their reviews and about your book in general.
Many bloggers will use your book as a way to promote their own site. Find these posts and share, retweet, repin, etc. as a way to boost both of your online presences.
Finally, grow your network by finding people in their network.
BIG FAT DON’TS
- NEVER offer to pay for a positive review! I can’t stress that enough. It’s amoral and offensive.
- Don’t argue with a reviewer over their opinion. If they get something factually incorrect you can ask them to correct it but if they simply didn’t like your book they’re entitled to that opinion.
- Don’t nag a reviewer. They’re busy, they will get to your book in time. Sending emails isn’t going to make it go faster.
- Don’t solely rely on other people to promote your book. You need to build your own social media presence and sell yourself on every platform available.
- Don’t send out a generalized form email to every reviewer you find contact information for.
- Don’t mark your contact emails as “important.” Your book isn’t more important than another author’s book. Sorry.
- Don’t tell the reviewer to buy your book. They’re promoting it for free, you provide them the book.
- Don’t stop writing if your first attempt at promotion doesn’t go well.
I hope this guide has been helpful. Please share it anywhere you find independent authors!