Friday, August 25, 2017

How to Get Your Book Read and Reviewed

There are a lot of methods for getting people to buy your book. Some good ones include clever marketing. Some less good ones include running after strangers and yelling, "Buy my book!"

Yep. There are a lot of ways to get people to buy your book. But we're not going to discuss those today.

Today we're talking about getting people to read and review your book. What's the difference between buying and reading? One is passive and the other aggressive. One engages the wallet for a few seconds and one engages the mind for hours. One will get you one sale and the other will (possibly) earn you several future sales.

You don't want somebody to just buy your book. You need them to read it. And then you need them to tell other people to read it by somehow getting them to review your story. You need them to be the one running after strangers and yelling "Buy this book!" Why be crazy yourself when you can brainwash other people into doing it for you?

The point is: Reads and reviews are an author's lifeblood. So how do you convert a buyer into a reader and reviewer (AKA: A fan)? I'll tell you:
Hannah Heath: How To Get Your Book Read and Reviewed - 9 tips for bringing in reviews for your novel

Note: All of these tips are relying on the fact that your story is, in fact, worth reading. If it's not, then some of these might not work. Sorry. My tips are good, but not that good.

1. Read other author's books (and make sure they know you're reading it). No, I don't mean tweeting frantically at J.K. Rowling or Neil Gaiman. Find authors who are in a similar boat to you. If you're an indie author: Find other indie books (like by checking out this exceedingly helpful list I've made for you). If you write fantasy: Find some other niche fantasy authors. You get the picture. Find your people and buy their books. Read them. And make sure the author knows you're reading them. Tweet about your progress and tag the author. Do updates on Goodreads. Post a picture of their book on your Facebook and mention their Facebook page. Do your best to make sure that author knows that you're reading and promoting their work. Without being creepy. Creepy is bad.

2. Review other author's books. And, again, make sure they know it's you. Do an Amazon review and make your reviewer name match the one you use on social media. Do the same on Goodreads. Tumblr. Your blog. Whatever other platform you favor. And then put the link to the review on social media and tag the author in it. Why bother with all of this? Because authors crave publicity and reviews. Not only are you helping another author out, but these authors (who have their own followers) now 1) Know you exist 2) Appreciate you and 3) Are more likely to read and review your book. Why? Because authors have this unspoken "We be nice to them if they be nice to us" Gollum pact going on. It's weird, but effective.

3. Be genuine. Regarding tips 1 and 2 (and, honestly, everything else in your life), be genuine. Only read, review, and support authors that you actually like and want to see succeed. And do it because you care, not because you're trying to manipulate reads and reviews out of people. That is mean and rude. You would appall C3PO.
4. Keep working on your platform. If you don't have one already, start working on it now. Here's a post to get you started: 11 Tips for Building a Successful Writer's Platform. If you have no platform? Well: You lose! You get nothing. Good DAY, sir. "But platforms look so hard, Hannah, I don't want..." I said good day!

5. Make people like and trust you. Why would somebody want to read your book if they find you annoying? Or if you've never displayed any particular skill in the writing department? Yeah. They wouldn't. So get out there. Make friends! If your books are funny, show people your sense of humor. If your books are sci-fi, engage with them about other great sci-fi novels that have inspired you. Build your credibility and fan base so that, when the time comes, they will become part of your army of crazed followers loyal fan base.

6. Ask for reviews. Did somebody mention to you that they've finished reading your book? Ask them to review it. Is this weird? Not if you're polite about it. Just ask them and mention how much you'd appreciate it. Do not pressure them, and certainly don't pressure them to give you a positive review. 90% of the time the "just ask" method does indeed work. I know it's uncomfortable, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

7. Ask influencers to read and review your book. When I say ask I mean: Offer to supply them with a free copy of your book for review. And when I say "influencers" I don't necessarily mean big-name reviews (Unless you somehow are connected to one personally, in which case: Can you put in a good word for me?). I mean people that you've noticed in your circle that frequently read and review other people's books. Maybe they're book bloggers, maybe not. They have their own loyal fanbase (the size of which doesn't necessarily matter). Now, don't just pop in and randomly ask or their help. If they have a book, help them out with it. Be part of their fanbase for a while. Engage. Make sure this is a person who has fans who will like what you are selling. Then ask. But don't do this too often. You don't want only reviews from people who were asked to review your book. This will just make your review section look like you paid a bunch of people to read and review your work and that will scare people off.

8. Make sure your book is presentable. So maybe you have a great book. But the blurb sucks and the cover isn't anything too special. Good luck with that. In a world where anybody can publish, you need to make sure that you don't look like an "Anybody." Do this by creating a great blurb and an eye-catching cover. Not only will this increase your chances of attracting readers, but it will make readers more willing to recommend your books to others. No reader wants to ruin their credibility by trying to convince their followers to check out an ugly, unprofessional looking book. So give them a reason to be excited and proud of your book so that they'll be stoked to share it with others.

9. Don't be manipulative. Yes, you are trying to get people to engage with your writing. No, you should not be using Mother Gothel techniques. There will be no hostages, no manipulation, no stalking, and no thug-hiring. Nobody owes you anything, so don't be presumptuous, pushy, or manipulative. That's a good way to alienate your readers.

Did this help you? I hope so! If you have any questions, just let me know! And if you're one of the brilliant authors out there who has gotten a good amount of reviews: Please leave your tips below!

Also: While we're on the subject: If you'd like to support me, how about reading and reviewing my short story? What? I didn't just write this entire post so I could plug my story. You can't prove anything.

Have writing or reading questions? Use the hashtag #ChatWithHannah and have them answered on my Youtube channel!
Related articles:
The 5-Star Rating System: What Book Reviewers Mean VS How Indie Authors Take It
11 Tips for Building a Successful Writer's Platform
Lessons Learned from my Indie Publishing Journey Part 1

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16 comments:

  1. notaperfectsoldierAugust 25, 2017 at 7:31 AM

    Ooh! Ooh! Pick me! :) Well, honestly I've never reviewed anything before, so I don't know if I'd be any good at it. But I love to read and I've read a lot, and I would try my best!

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    1. Aw. Thank you so much! I'd love for you to read and review my story! That would make my day. Thanks for the sweet comment!

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  2. Hi, Hannah!
    Great post! Glad I have other options besides chasing after them =P.
    I've only gotten one review of my newly published novella The Forbidden Territory. Thankfully it's a good one, but these tips are really helpful. Off to go (politely) pester the people who have read my story for reviews!

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    1. Yes, chasing after people can get very exhausting. Glad to provide alternatives. =D

      Good luck with getting more reviews! Polite pestering has worked for me quite often, so I'm sure it'll work out! Also: Congrats on the newly published novella! I've had that on my TBR list for a while. When I read it I'll be sure to post a review without making you pester me. =D

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  3. Would LOVE to get to read some of your work....[did I mention for free, if possible ;)]. Not that I have any idea of how to go about doing a review, or that I have any fan-base at the moment to promote you, but maybe one day I will.

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    1. Haha! I am so flattered. I currently only have one short story up to read, but I'm close to finishing up my novel. Anyway, I don't often give away free copies of Skies of Dripping Gold (mostly because it sets a bad precedent), but if I ever do I'll be sure to contact you! Are you on social media/a blog anywhere that I can find you? Thanks!

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  4. I can confirm that this works just by my experiences on DevientArt. I would follow and show support for someone's comic, they would come over to my dA page and check out my story a little bit. I've made at least...3, 4 really supportive artist/writer friends this way? (Oh no, 5 if you count the twins with the shared account.)

    My main question is: what do I do if I'm too poor to afford indie books, and my parents don't let me do any online purchasing anyway except through gift cards because they're paranoid about identity theft? I'd honestly be buying indie books even if it DIDN'T get me read, if only I didn't have these obstacles. T^T

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    1. That is so cool, Donna! It's great that you've built up that community. And all it takes is a little kindness. =)

      As to your question: As a college student, I have advice on this topic. =D

      1) You'll want to purchase ebooks, since they're cheaper. If you don't have a kindle, download the Kindle app onto any of your electronic devices. Yeah, you'll have to read off a screen, but if you dim the screen a bit it won't be super annoying.

      2) Purchase Amazon gift cards either online (or, if that scares your parents because of identity theft: You can buy them at Walmart, Target, and other stores). Then use this gift card balance anytime you purchase an indie ebook. I actually use this technique for book budgeting: I load a specific amount to be used over the course of a few months and never go over it. It helps me keep tabs on my book spending. =)

      I hope this helps!

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  5. Thanks for the tips! I'll definitely have to check your short story out- and review, of course :)
    -Anne

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    1. Thank you so much, Anne! That would be awesome.

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  6. Thank you for this--I have been turning it over in my mind lately, how to get more reader engagement. Sincerely, thanks for the tips!

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    1. Perfect timing, then! I'm so glad this post helped you out, Justin. Best of luck with your reviews!

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  7. Thanks for the great tips! I don't have a book yet, but it's never too early to start collecting knowledge.

    I try to review books I enjoy, especially by indie or unknown authors, but I never thought of sharing my reviews on social media and tagging the authors. Great suggestion!

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    1. Yes, getting started now never hurts. =) Also: It makes me happy to know you're out there supporting small authors/indie authors. That is awesome! Go you!

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  8. "You lose! You get nothing. Good DAY, sir. "But platforms look so hard, Hannah, I don't want..." I said good day!" ...Was that... a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory reference?

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    1. Haha! Yes, yes it was. You get a gobstopper for catching that reference! =D

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