I released Along Came a Wolf in April 2014, and released a new edition (re-edited and with a new cover) in August 2014. Today (March 2015) I have 87 ratings & 67 written reviews for it and a 4.47 star average, and 47 on Amazon (about 40% are the same as on Goodreads). I released my second book, Breadcrumb Trail, in September 2014. Today I have 38 ratings & 24 written reviews on Goodsreads, and 22 on Amazon (about 20% are the same as on Goodreads).
That might not sound like a lot, but for an indie? It’s very good, as I understand. A lot of indies I know don’t crack 10, most don’t crack 20. Well, here’s what I do…
Don’t Cheat. Whatever you do, DO NOT pay for reviews. Don’t hire a service that will give you 4 or 5 star reviews ( I was recently approached by one, there name was something like Black-something). There are services that will charge for you to have access to their network of free reviewers, but that’s different, it’s more like the newsletters. These services often pre-screen the books to make sure they are a certain level of quality, and that the reviewers are actually people who are excited to voice their opinion about a book.
This is actually worse than buying Twitter followers because when it’s discovered, you could lose all of your fans as well as have your book banned or all reviews wiped out. You only ruin things for yourself.
It sounds amazingly simple, and it is, but when someone tells you that they have just finished reading your book, ask them if they’d review it. That’s it. That’s how I’ve got about 60% of my reviews, simply asking someone who said they had read my book. If someone mentioned they reviewed it on Amazon (or on Goodreads) I ask them “if you can and have a moment, would you mind reviewing it on Goodreads/Amazon” (i.e. flipping it). If they do, great, if they don’t, that’s fine.
10% of my reviews come from book bloggers. There are a lot of book bloggers out there, and there are some that want to charge money to review your book (ignore those ones), and there are some that don’t try to get traffic to their site but rather its more like a sham site to allow them to get free books.
When someone does a blog tour and posts a review from a book blogger, or gets an award, I go and read the review. A friend of mine’s book was “book of the year” from one of these sites, and so I thought I’d check it out. The review was well written, and then I investigated the site and found that there was a review policy, so I read it. Then I asked if my book could be reviewed.
“Cold calling” book bloggers like this doesn’t get a lot of them, but it does get some and I’m more than willing to ask 10 and get 1, then not do the work and have none.
One of the things that I do on Twitter is that I read every person’s profile who follows me, and I greet them. I do this about every couple of days, and there are some people who are so impatient in needing a follow-back that they’ve come and gone before I have a moment.
In reading those profiles, I’ve found some reviewers and I’ve engaged with them. I offer them a free copy of a book in exchange for an honest review.
Stating the importance of reviews
On a regular basis, I tweet about the importance of reviews for all writers, there’s a number of other authors who do this as well. This is about highlighting the importance of this act, even if you didn’t love the book to pieces.
A Note about Free
I’ve seen people offer their book for free, get thrilled that 300 or 500 or 1000 people downloaded their book and then… nothing happens. There’s no reviews that come streaming in, and there are no followup sales.
A number of times I’ve seen reviews that were along the lines of “I decided to download this book for free because of the cover. It’s a dumb book. Orcs in space? This is crap” – 1 star. If that person would have had to part with 99c, they wouldn’t have bought the book. I know that author was rather angry about that review.
The Ultimate Secret
It’s all about hustle and staying on top of things. Let people know you’ve got a book (don’t expect them to find the book through divine intervention). When you learn they’ve read it, ask them if they’ve reviewed it and if not, would they mind. Don’t bug them about reviewing it. Nothing turns people off more than being pushed to do something. Look for quality book bloggers and engage them. Have I reminded a few people? Yes, but I haven’t ticked anyone off to my knowledge.
The real ultimate secret is to realize that this is a drip game. Claim victory in every single review logged. One by one by one, that’s how you get 100. One by one by one is how you get known. Some people may have a massive marketing engine or miraculously become the next big thing by doing next to nothing, good for them, but that’s not what’s happening for me. Slow and steady, one by one, I continue to move forward.
For books I sell at signings or shows, I have bookmarks I give away. On it are a call to action asking them to please review the book at Goodreads.com when they’re done. It also has some quotes about the book, and cover art, so it’s a nice extra item.
At the back of my book, I thank the reader and ask them to please review the book (with a link in the eBooks). It’s one more thing to help make it easier for the reader to go on and review the book.
So there you have it, everything I do that I can think of it. There’s no magic to it.