#indiechat Getting Better Reviews On Your Books

Every author faces the challenge of getting reviews on their books, preferably good ones ( 4 and above). They have a direct impact on sales. The more favorable, more sales and better exposure of the book on Amazon.

However, getting reviews can be a daunting task. Trust me, I know. I sent blind emails to bloggers and Amazon top reviewers. I filled out countless book review blog requests. I begged family and friends for their help (Which ended up being a waste of time, because Amazon blocks those reviews). I bartered with other authors (I review your book, if you review mine.). None of it worked. I got a few reviews that was it.

I finally resorted to using review services like Story Cartel and Netgalley, but several of the reviews I received weren’t that great. Like most writers I internalized and assumed my book sucked. But after I had time to think and put on my User researcher hat and re-read the reviews, I realized the bad reviews had nothing to do with my writing, rather the reviewer.

Majority of the reviewers who gave my book bad reviews weren’t my target audience. They liked to read paranormal romances not dark fantasy’s packed with action and mystery. No wonder why they hated the book. I would feel the same toward most literary fiction. I have no patience for slow paced, overly descriptive stories.

The rest of the bad reviews came from reviewers who like to bash books. You know them. The shock jocks who like to stir up others emotions to increase their blog readers, the pissed off reader who got irked about something in the book or in some cases, life, and take it out on the review.  Lastly, there were the reviewers who just wanted to add another blog article and didn’t bother to read the book at all. (i.e. a reviewer of my book The Zeuorian Awakening talked about how my lead character, Lexi, threw herself on all the boys. If she read the story, she would’ve known Lexi avoided everyone to keep them from figuring out about her powers.)

So I realized in order to get better reviews, I needed to think like a marketer. I needed to request reviews from my target audience. Unfortunately the pay for review services don’t give you the choice to be picky about who reads your books.

But How, you maybe thinking?

First of all you need to know what is your book genre and who is your real audience, because I promise you it’s not everyone.

When I say know your audience, I mean a general profile:

  • What is their age range
  • Are they male or female, if a mix what is the percentage (i.e 25% male and 75% female)
  • Do they have a blog, Twitter, Facebook and/or Goodreads accounts
  • Do they actively socialize online, if so where, how many posts per week and on what days?
  • What genre’s do they predominately read and give good reviews too. (Make sure your book Genre is on their list, specifically close to the top.)
  • Have they reviewed several books? (A must, if you want them to review your book)

The best way to figure out who are your audience without guessing and filling in the blanks, is to do a little competitive research. See who is reading similar books as yours on Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter and Blogs. (at least 25, but I suggest doing more to get a clear picture). Then list their answers in a spreadsheet and average them out.

For instance:

  • Ages were 25, 36, 29, 45, so the age range is 25 to 45.
  • There were 2 men and 18 women. So the audience makes up mostly women readers with a small percentage of men.
  • 10 readers had blogs, 18 had Twitter accounts, 5 had Facebook accounts and 16 had Goodreads accounts. So the audience predominately has Twitter and Goodreads accounts.
  • 5 readers tweeted 10 posts twice a week on Twitter, 12 tweeted 20 posts every other day of the week and 3 tweeted 1 post on Friday. So the audience is moderately active on Twitter, posting 10 to 20 tweets on M, W, F and Sun.

Next you need to find potential reviewers who match your audience using your research and solicit them. It doesn’t have to be a direct email. It could be:

  • A blog article, a tweet, a Facebook posting targeting them by using meta and hashtags.
  • An article written and posted on someone else’s blog that your audience views.
  • Join a discussion group who discuss your genre, but don’t hound them to review your book. Instead mention it briefly in a related thread.

If you can think of any other way to connect to your audience please share by posting a comment.

About The Author

C. Zablockis is an Indie author of paranormal, dark fantasy and horror novels. She published Lexi Greene’s Dangerous Lesson, Lexi Greene’s Grim Awakening, Monster (The Zeuorian Series) and My Watcher (The Zeuorian Series) YA Dark Fantasy Thriller.

3 thoughts on “#indiechat Getting Better Reviews On Your Books

  1. Can I just add a tip from a reviewer? Don’t pester people for reviews on Twitter. None of the other book bloggers I know take requests from that platform. We pretty much all prefer that you read our review policy and submit in a certain way. Its a little picky, but we get inundated with requests, and a place like Twitter is ‘fire and forget’ whereas if I see an email staring at me, I’m more inclined to address it and follow-up.

    You have some great tips on here 🙂

    I try, as a reviewer, to make sure it’s very clear what I do and do not accept, but I swear people don’t read the review policy half the time! So seeing more people following the “don’t submit blindly” is awesome. Ex: Asking me to review a romance. *eyes crossed* When I have SciFi and Scary as my site name, what makes a person perk up and go “Yay, they’d be perfect ask to review my paranormal romance!” ?

    1. Great point about pestering reviewers on Twitter. I wanted to clarify, when I state “blog article, a tweet, a Facebook posting targeting them by using meta and hashtags,” I don’t mean you should ask them to review you. Social media is about socializing, starting up a conversation. Would you in person walk up to a stranger and tell them to read your book and give it a review? Uh, No. You’d happen to talk to them about something you have in common. If the topic comes up about your book, then you discuss it. Just think about those people you run into while shopping who tell you all their problems. Well, telling reviewers to read your book is just as annoying.

      I really like you brought up about reading reviewer submission policies. I always read them and didn’t randomly submit my book. Book Buzz didn’t (my paid promotion experts), but that was a different story. However, I can see how it can happen. Authors are so desperate for a review, they don’t care who reads it. They think if they submit to everyone, one will eventually stick. Instead what their doing is actually hurting themselves, besides obviously wasting their time and the reviewers (can’t forget them), they are also potentially ruining their chance to have future books reviewed on those sites, because they may have pissed them off. I’ve known some reviewers who actually have a block list of authors who pester them too much.

      I also like to add, always, always be courteous and polite to reviewers no matter if they give you a bad review. It doesn’t mean your book is horrible. It just means they didn’t like it. Remember not everyone has the same taste in books, even within the same genre. For that matter, not everyone likes all the books an author writes. I hated one of Dean Koontz books, because he deviated from the style of writing I generally like. So just keep that in mind before you hit the reply button. 🙂

      1. Yep. I’ve had several authors I’ve reviewed come back to me and actually thank me because even though I gave them a bad review, it was a constructive bad review. However, if someone gets shirty with me, they’ve lost all future chances. I’m one of those people that keeps a list *shifty* You solicit your book to me via Twitter, I put on you on a “Never, ever even consider” list.

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