How to Get Reviews on Self-Published Books
If you are going to be successful at self-publishing, you’re going to have to get good reviews on your books. This is not referring to critical reviews, although if you can get these and they are positive then you definitely should, but instead is referring to actual customer reviews from people who bought the book and want to tell others what they thought about it. If the book was good, the majority of them will tell others that they recommend it. If the book is bad, then the reviews are probably going to hurt your sales. But let’s assume that you have a good book and you are going to get good reviews. How do you get them in the first place?
The Value of Amazon Reviews
First, understand that publishing on Amazon and getting Amazon reviews is going to be one of the most useful things you can do for book sales. That’s not only because Amazon is the largest retailer of digital and physical books on the planet, it is also because when someone types in the title of your book, it’s going to be those Amazon reviews that likely get listed at the top of the search results. Getting positive Amazon reviews for your book is going to drive sales more than just about anything else you can do.
Things not to do to Get Reviews
there are some things that you want to be aware of when it comes to getting Amazon reviews, as well as reviews from other retailers. There are lots of services out there that claim to be foolproof five-star review services that will get your book in the public eye and make people want to purchase it. While it is true that these people can leave five-star reviews on your book if you pay them, the odds are really good that Amazon will figure out quickly that they are posting reviews for money and remove all of their reviews from the entire site. Plus, this is against Amazon’s terms of service, so you may even have your books removed from the Amazon site. This goes for several other retailers as well.
Asking Readers to Leave Reviews
One of the best ways to get reviews is to simply ask readers to leave one at the end or beginning of your book. Most readers that love your book will leave a review if you asked them to. In fact, one of the main reasons that people don’t leave reviews simply because they forget or decide they’re going to do it later in the never do.
Getting Involved on the Kindle Boards
Finally, you definitely want to get involved in the Kindle boards, which is a forum for Kindle readers and authors. The benefit of this is that if you can get other authors to buy your books, or even offer free promotions such as through the Kindle Select program, these authors will likely leave a review because they know the value of having them.
A good place to hunt for book reviewers is Reedsy’s directory of blogs
Starting Your Story at the Right Place
One of the things that will make it easier for you to grab a reader’s attention and keep it is starting your story in the right place. Many writers are innately aware of this due to the books that they have read, while others have to learn the right place to start a story. There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to choosing the place to start. Get some legalized bud lit, then let’s look at each of them below.
Avoid Exposition Right Away
You don’t want to start your story off with a bunch of exposition. Exposition in the first few paragraphs your story is going to turn off readers and editors alike. Starting your story in the right place means you start with something that people are going to want to keep reading about. Sometimes this can be a good bit of dialogue, but more often it is something that is happening within the story that make someone want to find out more.
Use “Need to Know” for Beginnings
When it comes to the beginning, think about what people need to know and only give them that information at first. Remember, you only have a certain number of paragraphs – or possibly even sentences – to get someone hooked within your story. Make sure that you are leaving out extraneous information that you can give them later on.
Avoid Character Descriptions
Avoid describing characters in the beginning. This is something that new writers do quite often. They think that they have to describe the character in great detail before they can get into the story. Not only is it a bad idea to do at the beginning, but often you don’t need to do it at all because the reader can fill in information about the character from their imagination. Remember that you want to show and not tell. A reader should be able to infer certain details based upon what is going on within the story, dialogue that is happening or other parts of the narrative.
Talking about Action is Not Action
You should get right to the action when you are starting a story. But you need to remember that talking about action is not the same thing as action. Some writers, especially if they are writing in first person point of view, tend to tell the readers about the action that has happened up to that point or is about to happen. This is a bad idea. Instead of talking about the action, actually create a narrative where the action happens in real time.
Don’t Forget the Hook
The hook is the most important part of the story. The hook is usually the first sentence of your novel or short story. The hook is something that people read and immediately makes them want to find out more. A hook is intriguing and mysterious. Writing something like ‘John poured a cup of coffee’ is not going to make readers want to keep going.
If you want more writing tips on how to start a story, check out Reedsy
Your author bio is one of the most important tools you have when it comes to promoting your books. When someone reads one of your books, they will seek out your author bio, but people that are thinking about reading your books might also look at your bio and try to decide whether or not to buy. But these days, you need to have a bunch of different bios prepared for the various places to post them on the web. Let’s talk about six different types of bios that you might have to create.
You are definitely going to need a bio for Twitter. But there are a limited number of characters that you can use for your Twitter profile, so you’ll need to come up with something short and concise. You still want to give enough relevant information for people to know that you are an author – unless you are so well known that it is common knowledge – but you need to keep it short.
Other Social Media
Luckily, other social media outlets have more space to list your profile. For example, author bios on Instagram or Facebook can be a paragraph or so. You still have to be relatively concise, but you don’t have to list just the bare minimum details that you would when putting your author bio on Twitter. You should use the maximum amount of space on social media if you can.
When it comes to magazine by-lines, you might have even less than Twitter. A magazine byline may just give you a single, short sentence; two at the most. “Your bio may read something like: John Doe is an author of 3 horror novels and lives in Tallahassee with his wife and two kids.” There isn’t much space so make sure that you are including the most important things.
Amazon Author Page
Your Amazon Author page is a little different because you have a lot more space in order to work. However, you do want to keep in mind that even though there is plenty of space on the actual Amazon author page, there is going to be limited amount of space on each page of your book listings.
Your Website “About” Section
You should have plenty of room to include as much information as you want on your about section of your personal website. You can include several paragraphs of detail on your website page, because people are only going to visit your site if they are really curious about you and want to find out a lot more.
Book Proposal Bio
The one place where you should list everything you can is whenever you are creating an author bio for a book proposal. You want to make sure that you list all of your relevant experience, education, awards and more so that a publisher or an agent will have the confidence of your expertise when it comes to determining whether they are going to represent or publish your book.