Getting reviews of your book is essential not only to its critical success but its commercial success as well. Reviews spread the word to potential readers about the content and quality of your writing and can lead to sales and even more reviews. No matter what kind of book you have written–experimental poetry to page-turner novel–reviews help build your reputation and numbers.
So, once you’ve published and are seeking reviews, what’s next?
When to Send
Before I answer the “where” question, let me answer “when” to send your book out for reviews. Most reputable review publications, in print or online, require a 3 month lead-time BEFORE the book is released. They want the ‘scoop’ of having reviewed your book before anyone else has read it. That timing makes their review more ‘exclusive.’
About 4 months before you know your book will be coming out (and talk frankly with your editor or publisher about this unless you are self-publishing), you should do some research on venues and their requirements. (Hopefully, that’s why you are reading this–it’s research!)
Make a list or spreadsheet of all the places you want to send it and keep track of when and what you sent to each place.
Where to Send
I think spending a month or a few weeks learning about all the different ways you can get reviews is a good idea. There are places, like Poets & Writers, or Reedsy, that have listings of review venues all in one place.
- Traditional media. Newspapers and magazines like The New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly, BookList, or even NPR are still the gold-standard of book reviews. Although they depend highly on large publishers, agents, and editors for review submissions, most of them will take unsolicited books under consideration. Most of them, be advised, want hard copies of books 3 months in advance, so be sure to check early.
- Online magazines. Many review outlets have gone or have started exclusively online. They often are more open to e-books and can have a shorter turn around time. I submitted to City Book Review, The Compulsive Reader, American Book Review, and BookRiot, among others.
- Respected authors. If you know other writers personally, they are great sources for reviews, since many of them already write reviews in their careers. If you don’t know writers, it cannot hurt to reach out to ones you have read, through social media, at their events, or through their agents, and ask them to write a blurb or review. Even a short blurb from a well-read author can give your book a boost, since you can use it on your one-sheet, Amazon, your social media, website, and
- Paid review services. With such sites like Self-Publishing Review and Booklife (Publishers Weekly’s indy review site), reviews are guaranteed, though good ones are not. Prices vary from $50-500 but they can be good ways to get reviews quickly and objectively.
- Blogs. Many avid fans dedicate lots of time and energy to review, mostly for free, books in genres they love. Some have gained quite a bit of fame from something that started as a hobby, and thus they have become highly influential to readers looking to buy good books. Reedsy has a great list of 250 top bloggers searchable by genre.
- Social Media. Many bookclubs, reviewers, and magazines publish reviews, author Q&As, and cover photos. Follow them, submit books to them, and see if you can get some love.
A Word on Amazon Reviews
Do you want lots of great Amazon reviews? Yes, of course you do; reviews drive Amazon’s algorithm to push your book up the rankings and in front of more potential readers.
But Amazon is a bit temperamental about reviews. First, readers cannot post reviews of your book until it has been released. This is why all of the advanced options above are still crucial to your book’s success. Second, close friends and family members are not allowed to review, as are any reviewers who may gain from the review. See Amazon’s rules here.
Second, it’s hard to get readers to review your book if they don’t read it, and they may not read it without reviews. A sorta chicken-and-egg dilemma.
But there are ways to generate reviews on Amazon:
- Ask acquaintances, colleagues, and advance readers to post reviews. They are customers and readers, so their word matters. And they are most likely interested in your success and will likely write good reviews. Don’t hesitate to ask people to review your book. As I’ve sold advanced copies, I include a note in the book that says “if you enjoyed the book, please review it on Amazon!” The worst they can do is say no.
- Offer a Giveaway. Give an advance copy to people (aside from close friends and family) if they agree to review you on Amazon. Pretty good return on the investment, if you ask me.
- Join an author review network. In circles like Reviews 4 Best Sellers, authors buy and review each other’s books. It’s legitimate and within Amazon’s strict rules for reviews, and it can expose you to what other writers in your genre are doing out there.
- Pay for reviews. I advise against this. Fake or bot reviews are illegal on Amazon and will get your entire profile and book deleted from the site. There are legitimate reviewers/bloggers you can pay, but I’m not sure it’s worth the price, since there are other methods for gettin reviews on Amazon.
What’s been your experience with Amazon? How did you get reviews on Amazon or through other outlets?