Why Book Reviews Are Important and How to Get Them


1106 Design

March 23, 2015

recommended bookHow do you choose a particular book to read? I’m willing to bet that you base your choices on:

  • A friend’s personal recommendation
  • An endorsement from a person whose opinion you value
  • A book review published in a source you respect
  • A “Best Seller” list
  • A recommendation from library or bookstore staff
  • Books featured in a display.

Your reasons for choosing a book are the same as those of other readers, meaning that you need to think about your own independently published book and how to convince people to read it. So let’s figure out how you can get these same recommendations and reviews for your book!

A Friend’s Personal Recommendation

“Friend” means friends of your readers, not your friends. Don’t print endorsements from your friends on your book cover. You could, however, ask your friends to read your book and post a customer review on your Amazon bookseller page or recommend your book over social media, on Goodreads, or on one of the other top book recommendation websites (see http://lifehacker.com/five-best-book-recommendation-services-1577706074). Make sure you open a Goodreads account and that your book is “live” on that website. Why? Your readers respect the opinions of others like them—their community or “tribe”—which exists on social media. Being a member of Goodreads is like being a member of the world’s largest book club, and what could be better than a recommendation from another book club member?

Endorsements from People Whose Opinions Are Respected

It is essential that your book cover, flap, and website include endorsements from people related to your book’s genre or topic. How do you get these? Print a quantity of advanced reading copies (ARCs)—copies of your book with a cover that makes it clear it’s an advance copy. You can arrange for this through your book designer. Forward your book with a personalized letter to people who are respected in your field or genre and ask them to review it.

Aim for endorsements from professionals in your book’s genre whose names and titles you can print under their endorsements, for example, John Doe, President of ACME Corporation, or, Jane Doe, author, “How to Get Great Reviews.” Never, ever, include endorsements that do not include the reviewer’s last name and title or position. Your readers must be able to place this endorsement on their own internal “trustability” scale: whose endorsement would be more worthy of trust—Gerald M., or Gerald McAbee, Vice-President of Marketing, XYZ Corporation?

You can also send advance book copies (or PDFs of your book) to bloggers who review books and to the top reviewers on Amazon. Send a personalized email to bloggers and ask for a review. Take a look at the Top Reviewers page on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/review/top-reviewers), which lists the readers who post the most reviews. These people love to read books and post reviews, and they welcome inquiry emails.

Your goal should be to obtain several online reviews that will appear on your Amazon bookseller page, plus some book reviews by bloggers to which you can link from your website. You should start obtaining reviews six weeks before your book launch date. Plan your launch date and schedule a “launch week,” during which reviewers will post their reviews. Don’t let your book languish with no reviews!

A Review of the Book Published In a Respected Source

See the above regarding bloggers, Goodreads and Amazon top reviewers. But also consider giving an advanced copy to a book reviewer at your local community newspaper or, if your book is nonfiction, get your book reviewed in a trade magazine. Which media do readers of your book’s genre go to for information: websites, magazines, newspapers, radio shows, community television? These are the media outlets you need to contact for reviews or interview opportunities!

Best Seller Lists and Featured at the Library or Bookstore

It’s hard to help you with the best seller list, but if you have a good product and happy customers, with lots of positive reviews and some savvy promotions, you may just find yourself moving up the rankings at Amazon. However, you can approach your local library and offer a free copy or two. Offer to do a reading and book signing for free, in return for your book being featured in a display or written up in the library newsletter. Ditto for your local independent bookstore. Arrange for author appearances and book signings in your community; most community groups are delighted to have authors come and speak.

Push past your natural shyness and fear of criticism and ask for those reviews. Be strategic in whom you approach. Your potential readers need some help in deciding which books to read. Help them pick yours.

If this all sounds like too much, we can refer you to trustworthy experts who will look after getting reviews for you, and more. Contact us today.

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